Friday, March 23, 2018

Blinding Pain

There is a pain that can blind us from truth. It can turn us away from what we already know, as if we never knew it before. Even those with the strongest faith will have this experience. 

When you're standing on top of the mountain, you can see everything clearly that is below. But when you're in a deep valley, your vision is severely hindered. The longer we remain in the valley, the harder it is to remember what we saw while standing on the mountain top.

Fear and doubt come from a lack of knowledge or understanding. When we are stumbling through darkness caused by the pain of our suffering, it can become easy to forget what the Lord has already shown us. Like turning off a light at night and trying to walk through a familiar room, we have to remember where everything was so we do not trip and hurt ourselves. Unfortunately the longer we remain in darkness, the harder it is to remember.

After we are weakened by pain and troubled by blindness, temptation becomes our companion in the valley. It tries to rob us of everything we learned during our time with God on the mountain top. During these moments we feel the urge to question what we used to believe. Then we are bombarded with guilt for having these feelings.

Have you, like me had this experience? If so, we can all find comfort in remembering what Jesus experienced on the cross. I'd like to share this bible passage:

"From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” (which means 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?')" (Matthew 27:45-46) NIV

We can be sure that Jesus knew everything about His sacrifice on the cross before it happened. Indeed, the prophet Isaiah wrote about how our Lord would one day suffer. He who knew no sin would become sin; He would take our punishment on His shoulders and satisfy God's desire for justice. 

Jesus was also aware that during this process, God the Father would temporarily turn His back on Him. Why then, while in agony on the cross would our Lord ask God for an answer He already knew? I believe it's because His suffering was so great, it actually blinded Him from what He had known earlier.

What can we learn from this? If the Almighty King was temporarily blinded from God's presence and wisdom, we do not have to feel guilty when we have the same experience. The feelings of doubt and fear that are caused by pain do not define us; they are simply a byproduct of intense suffering. Also, if we remain faithful to God during these periods of suffering, blindness and doubt, He will eventually rescue us and restore our spiritual sight. 


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

Regardless of a person's belief system, I think everyone can admit there is a side of them they cannot control. All of us have experienced a time when, once enough pressure is put upon us, we snap and do or say something we later regret. If we dig deeper into our own psyche, we can find the hidden reasons that explain this behavior. 

First and foremost, in order to find the truth about ourselves we have to be willing to face our fears and honestly assess our lifestyle. If we are unwilling to admit fault or guilt, a person will never find victory over their personal demons. 

For a time in my life as a very young man, I did not believe in God or the existence of spiritual beings. Still, there was a part of me that wanted to know the truth about my own actions and the motivations behind them. I began to dissect and self-analyze every thought inside my mind, in an effort to find the truth about myself and life in general.

In one area of my life in particular, I found a love for selfish pleasure over honor and integrity. After weeks of inner turmoil, I decided once and for all not to have these selfish thoughts in my mind any longer. From that point on I would only have faithful and pure thoughts.

To my surprise, not long after this decision I began having those selfish thoughts again. Not only that, deep down I realized I actually derived pleasure from them. Also, I could not consistently resist indulging in them once they came into my mind.

What did I learn? I learned there were two sides to me: One side recognized what was right and knew I should embrace it; but there was another side of me that enjoyed doing things I knew were wrong. 

What was I to do? A part of me thought I could just ignore the truth or pretend these feelings didn't exist. Ironically I had already done this for several months...awhile back, I made a choice to not believe in God because it conflicted with a lifestyle I wanted. I conveniently ignored the truth to fit my agenda but for some reason I could not this time. I was no longer willing to ignore what was good in order to justify my actions, which were selfish and dishonorable.

Since I could not find peace or victory over this struggle, eventually I turned to a God I didn't believe in. Talk about desperation, right? I didn't know who He was or if He was even real...but if there was a God of truth, honor and faithfulness, I wanted His help. For the first time in my life, I was willing to acknowledge my guilt and do whatever it took to change.

Needless to say, the one true God came into my heart when I cried out for help. Even though I had willingly turned my back on Him months before, He didn't turn His back on me when I needed Him most. But my spiritual rebirth was only the beginning; what followed was an endless battle for righteousness and victory over my demons.

When a person chooses to walk with Christ, it is hard work; I liken it to spiritual exercise. Just like when we do physical exercise, at first our body revolts against us. But if we persevere, our body will adjust and even become accustomed to it. Once we overcome our feelings of fear/laziness and put them under submission, a life of healthy exercise will become second nature to us.

The same is true in our spiritual life: Once we receive Christ and become reborn in our hearts, we now have the ability to bring those unwanted temptations, thoughts and desires under submission. But it doesn't happen automatically; we must allow our personal trainer (Jesus) to mold us in a way where we can reach a place of consistent victory in our lives.

Since we all have a nature to do things that are wrong, we must allow God to re-train us. If we embark on this journey, not only will we find resistance in our own flesh, most likely we will find resistance from those around us. Notice what the bible says about this topic:

"Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit." (1Peter 4:1-6) NIV

To summarize, all of us have two sides: One side wants to do right and the other what is wrong. In order to gain control over Mr. Hyde (or the wrong side), we must keep him under submission. This requires hard work and can sometimes be painful...but the reward we gain is priceless. In many ways, Dr. Jekyll (the good side) remains dormant inside each one of us. The good news is, Jesus can bring him to the surface of our character, if we allow God to do His perfect work inside each one of us. 

Whether we accept it or not, life is a fight. On a daily basis we are all bombarded with hardships and struggles. Instead of being a punching bag, we can put on the boxing gloves of faith and fight back! We can find victory over the bad side in each and everyone of us, with help from our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ. The only question is, are we willing to do whatever it takes to achieve this victory?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Finding God

There are many people who do not believe in God. I can relate to them because I also did not believe. Some use the absence of physical evidence as a reason for their unbelief. Instead of focusing on physical things we can see, I would argue we must focus on things that cannot be seen in order to find God.

Our lives are filled with many different situations that require choices to be made. If we begin to analyze our invisible, inner most thoughts and feelings to learn why we make certain choices, this decision will put us on the path to finding God. Notice what is written in the bible:

"The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.

"He replied, 'When evening comes, you say, "It will be fair weather, for the sky is red," and in the morning, "Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast." You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.'” (Matthew 16:1-4) NIV

What did Jesus mean by these words? When these unbelievers were motivated to learn about something, they were able. For example, by analyzing the sky, eventually they could learn to predict future weather conditions. In essence Jesus was telling them, if they applied this same attitude toward spiritual things they could learn the truth about Him.

So then, why did they (and others) choose not to analyze spiritual truth inside themselves? The bible gives us insight:

"Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,she raises her voice in the public square;on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech:

"'How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?' Repent at my rebuke!Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings." (Proverbs 1:20-23) NIV

Many who decide not to look for God do so because they are more enamored with other things. Consider this: Whatever we love the most, that is what we will spend our life striving for. For example, those who love pleasure will seek it above everything else, even if they have to disregard honor and truth to have it. But those who love the truth more than everything else will strive to find it, even if that means they will suffer in their body.

Why am I so sure about this? Well, aside from the confirmation found in God's Word, I also know this is true from experience. When I chose to turn away from God as a young man, I did so because I loved selfish pleasure more than what is good and wholesome. I chose to not believe in God (even though I wasn't sure He did or did not exist) because it supported my agenda, which was to indulge in selfish pleasure. I figured if God wasn't real, then by what authority could someone else say my lifestyle choices were wrong?

After many months of living in this sinful existence, a funny thing happened: I started to get tired of my behavior. I began to question my inner feelings and thoughts, trying to determine why I did certain things. By honestly analyzing these feelings, thoughts and desires, what I learned was shocking (at least to me). The fact that I enjoyed doing things I knew were selfish and wrong told me I was also selfish and wrong. And to make matters worse, I discovered I could not stop having these selfish thoughts and desires, nor was I able to consistently resist indulging in them.

Hopeless, depressed and disgusted, one night in desperation I cried out to a God (I wasn't sure existed) for help. Allah, Buddha, didn't matter to me what His name was. All that mattered is I knew I was bad and if there was a God of honesty and integrity, I wanted His help to change my life. Needless to say, Jesus Christ answered my prayer and many years later I am now a new creature in Him; spiritually born again and baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Whether we find God or not really comes down to one thing: How bad do we want to know if He exists or not? Instead of focusing on physical proof, we should instead focus on the invisible evidence inside our hearts. It is there we will find a broken spirit in need of His love. Once we are willing to admit this and cry out to Him for help, that is when we will truly find God.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

How Much Do We Love The Truth?

I believe this is the most important question we could ever ask ourselves. Indeed, everyone's eternal fate rests upon this seemingly simple question. However, when one digs deeper into this question, we find it is anything but simple.

As Christians, we believe and know that Jesus Christ is the truth.  When we are honest with ourselves, the ultimate truth we learn is all of us are sinners; we all do, think and say things that are wrong in the eyes of God, who is the Father of truth. To admit our guilt and accept Christ in our hearts is not only an act of repentance, it is a way of facing and accepting the truth. Conversely, if we are unwilling to accept responsibility for our guilt by admitting the truth, we are in fact loving something more than the truth. Some of these things are: Pride, hatred, love for pleasure, fear, love of power, complacency and love of evil.

Accepting Jesus into our hearts in order to have forgiveness and the strength to resist sin is the foundation for our well being. When we do this, our names are written in the Book of Life; there is no need to do anything else to achieve eternal life. However, in terms of God's plan for our lives, this is just the beginning.

All of us are complex and unique individuals. We all have strengths and weaknesses based upon our individual abilities, how we were raised, our level of spiritual growth and the environment around us. For this reason, it is important that each one of us develop our own relationship with God and the Holy Spirit inside of us. While it's true we can learn many things from the lives of others, the journey our Lord leads one person down is often quite different from our own.

Knowing this truth helps us in many ways. Not only does it help to avoid making mistakes by simply copying what others do without confirmation from the Spirit inside us, it also helps us to be less judgmental. Just because somebody doesn't think or do things exactly like us doesn't necessarily mean they are wrong.

In terms of our own walk with Christ, this is perhaps the most important Scripture in the bible:

"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." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

It is extremely important we acknowledge the Holy Spirit of God in everything we do, every moment of each day. Though I have been a born again believer for almost 28 years, it wasn't until a few years ago I gave my entire lifestyle to God. I remember what it's like to live my day and not recognize God's presence. In fact, I remember oftentimes hiding from God in my heart and mind. Why? Because I was indulging in worldly things I suspected God was not pleased with.

Have you played this game? God addresses something in your life you enjoy doing; in your heart, the Holy Spirit begins to gently try and pull you away from it. However, you begin to rationalize your behavior in order to justify it. Before long you start to hide and even ignore the Holy Spirit and His guidance in your life.

Why do we do this? Because we love something more than the truth. We have placed it on a pedestal, higher up than our love for God. It can be many things; the devil has created numerous distractions and pleasures in this world to separate us from God. Whatever it is, they share one thing in common: The enjoyment we receive from them is a lie.

The devil deceives us into thinking these worthless, worldly pleasures are something good. But ask yourself this: Why does the Holy Spirit guide us away from certain things in our life? Is it because God is a big meanie and doesn't want us to have any fun? The devil would have us believe this but that is a, the truth is, those things God is trying to lead us away from are actually hurting us; in many cases we just don't realize it. 

Looking back on my life, there have been many times where I had this struggle. In some cases it took years before I finally turned the corner on my disobedience and obeyed the Spirit. In each instance, God has shown me how the thing I thought was so good before was actually hurting me. But many times I did not see this truth in the middle of my struggle.

This is why it is important to trust in God. Remember the Scripture? "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding." Many times we cannot understand why the Spirit is leading us in a certain direction. It may even seem unfair, because we are being asked to give up something we've enjoyed for years. But if we trust in God and obey His voice, even when we don't understand why, I guarantee we will always be better for it in the long run.

How much do we love the truth? The answer to that question will decide not only our eternal fate, but our level of happiness in this life on earth. The more we obey the Spirit and deny our own selfish desires, the more our lives will become richly blessed. As we travel down the road Christ has planned for us, we will eventually realize those things left behind were worthless in comparison to Him. In fact, nothing in this world can ever compare to the fellowship we can have with our Creator, if we allow Him to do His perfect work in us:

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25) NIV



Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Jesus The Mediator

The bible says:

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people." (1Timothy 2:5) NIV

I think all Christians recognize Jesus Christ as their Savior; the one who paid the price for their sin by dying on the cross. But how many of us see Him as our mediator? What exactly is a mediator? Here is one definition:

 "A person who attempts to make people involved in a conflict come to an agreement; a go-between."

When Adam sinned against God through disobedience, it created animosity and conflict between God and mankind. By embracing sin, Adam created a separation between himself and God; and not only for himself, but for every person afterward. 

What did this mean? Notice what God said before Adam sinned:

"And the Lord God commanded the man (Adam), “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) NIV

We know from the Book of Genesis, after eating the forbidden fruit Adam lived on earth for hundreds of years. If God promised Adam would surely die if he ate the forbidden fruit, and yet he lived for many years afterward, how can that be?

When God created Adam's physical body from the dust, it did not come to life until God breathed life into his body. It is this invisible, immortal spirit living inside each one of us that died immediately after Adam sinned. Because he was now dead in sin, all of his offspring would also inherit this spiritual death.

This single act of disobedience set off a chain reaction of suffering and death in a world created by God to be beautiful and perfect. How could we ever make restitution for this sin? Sadly, none of us are capable of paying the price for this horrible crime against God. The only way this wrong could be made right was for God Himself to fix it for us. This is why He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sin; only His sacrifice was sufficient to make restitution for our crime, since He alone is perfect and spotless.

This is why the Lord's sacrifice on the cross is so amazing: By His act of obedience, He cancelled Adam's act of disobedience. Where once we were in conflict with God the Father, now we can have peace and fellowship with Him through Jesus Christ.

Not only that, Jesus serves as our heavenly intercessor or "go-between." God the Father is omnipresent and all knowing, but there is one thing he does not know: What it's like to be tempted by sin. But there is good news...Jesus does! He is God and yet He also lived as a man, subject to the same sufferings and temptations as you and I. He is the perfect One to defend our cause and plead our case before the Throne of God.

When Jesus died for us on the cross, it was the most amazing act of love, courage and strength the world will ever know. By doing so, our Lord became mankind's only path toward redemption and salvation. To everyone who comes to Him, Christ will serve as their mediator, erasing all of the conflict that once existed between them and God the Father. Knowing this, may all of God's people shout with joy for what the Lord has done for us!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Justification In Christ Alone

God's Word is truth and perfection; people, however, are born with a nature to believe lies. This fact explains why we, as God's people, sometimes do and teach things contrary to His will. One such example of this is how some view justification toward God.

I grew up being taught by a religious system that finds justification in works. If you didn't follow the rules or observe certain customs/holidays, sometimes you would be hit with a "guilt trip." Did you know the bible warns us about this type of behavior? Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote:

"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head (Christ), from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow."  (Colossians 2:16-19) NIV

I believe this is a strong condemnation against religious justification. So then, why would a Christian who believes in the bible disobey what it says and judge another person for not following certain rules or religious customs? Quite simply, it's because they are allowing religion and man-made rules to be a substitute for an intimate relationship with Christ. Paul warns us to avoid this when he wrote:

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."  (Colossians 2:8) NIV

When we regularly spend quality time alone with God by reading His Word and listening for the Spirit, we begin to learn more about His nature. During this process, Jesus begins to transform us into His likeness spiritually. As this happens, our ability to discern right from wrong and truth from lies increases.

To be more specific, we can learn faith in Christ is the only path toward justification with God because that is what it says in the bible. But if we do not have a personal relationship with Jesus or do not spend time reading His Word, we are more likely to be deceived by false teachings. 

Why is the principle of following religious rules and customs as justification for sin a false teaching? The Word of God sheds some light on this matter:

"These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence."  (Colossians 2:22-23) NIV

Following religious rules and regulations as a means for spiritual justification is unsuccessful because it does not fix the real problem, which is our inherited sinful heart. Unless we have this sinful nature destroyed and become a new creature in Christ (or spiritually born again), we will always be a slave to our sinful urges and desires. Trying to faithfully obey righteous laws when our nature is to commit unrighteous acts is pointless. To do so is to fight a losing battle, one which only frustrates and has no spiritual benefits. The bible confirms this:

"Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, 'How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?'

"Jesus answered, 'How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

“'No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.'”  (Mark 2:18-22) NIV

It was pointless for His disciples to fast (a religious work) while Jesus (the bridegroom) was still with them, because they could not become born again and receive the Holy Spirit until His death on the cross. They would only be fighting a losing battle; one which would have no spiritual benefit. (The new wine represents the righteousness of God. The old wineskins represents a person's old sinful nature and body. The new wineskins represents our spiritual body once we become new creatures in Christ.)

Paul was very clear when he said, even though some religious rules and those who teach them have an appearance of righteousness, they are in fact inspired by the devil. Notice what the bible says:

"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth."  (1Timothy 4:1-3)  NIV

The concise conclusion to everything we've just learned is this: Justification for our sins can be found in Christ alone, not in religious obedience. By having a close, personal relation with Him, we can effectively resist people who teach otherwise. Also, when we have confidence in Him, we are always able to resist any guilt trip the devil might try to ensnare us with. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Right Perspective

When we trust in God for deliverance and protection but something bad happens to us anyway, it can test our faith. Thankfully the bible gives us great examples of how we should perceive our relationship with God. 

One such example is the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were young, Hebrew men who were forced to live under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. At one point during his reign, Nebuchadnezzar forced everyone in his kingdom to worship a gigantic golden idol; anyone who refused would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Here is how the young Hebrew men responded to the situation:

"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.'"  (Daniel 3:16-18) NIV

Anyone who is familiar with the story knows God did in fact save the men from being burned to death in the furnace. However, it's important to recognize they were prepared to die for their faith in God. They did not know for sure whether God would deliver them and were prepared to suffer physical pain and death. 

Putting myself in their shoes, it would have been easy to question God's motives through the entire situation. For example, one could ask, "Oh God, why would you allow this to happen to us? We are doing everything you asked of us...why would you allow this evil king to throw us in a fiery furnace?" Also, I am sure their minds were ripe for feelings of doubt trying to attack their faith. One of these thoughts might have been, "If God is real and we have been faithful to Him, why would He allow us to suffer? Maybe He is not real after all..."

Speaking from experience, I believe the way we react to troublesome situations in our lives is directly related to our spiritual maturity. I remember a time when I would easily become angry at God after things didn't go the way I expected. At the time I couldn't understand why He would allow me to suffer. These feelings caused me to doubt His existence.

Why did I react this way back then? Because I was immature and naïve. I lacked a deeper understanding of who God is and how He operates. It is certainly true that nobody can know all of God's motives and reasons for why things happen; we are simply not capable. However, from experience I can say with all truthfulness that God has shown me (as I now look back on my life) why certain things happened the way they did. I do not know everything about every detail in my life...but God has been gracious enough to teach me why certain ordeals occurred in my life. Since He has done this for me, I believe He will for you as well (if He hasn't already).

The reason I could not see these things before was because of my spiritual immaturity and stubbornness. In some ways we can never completely shed this spiritual blindness. However, the more we obey the Holy Spirit in our hearts and conform our lifestyle to His instruction, the more we will grow and mature. Sin blinds us and separates us from God; the more we avoid sin, the clearer our spiritual sight will become.

In order to resist sin we need to find strength in Christ. How does this happen? Ironically enough, we gain strength from the very things we often ask God to remove from our lives. In the bible, it says the Apostle Paul kept asking the Lord to deliver Him from something that was tormenting him. Here is the story and it's resolution:

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 8-10) NIV

Do you see how the Lord used suffering to bring Paul to a stronger and more enlightened spiritual state? Indeed, the whole ordeal changed Paul's perspective about the situation and his relationship with Christ. Where once he focused on the physical pain his ordeal was causing, now he chose to focus on the spiritual treasure and strength he would gain by enduring the ordeal with help from Jesus. 

In order to have success in our walk with Christ, we need to keep things in the right perspective, just like Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Paul. That perspective is this: The spiritual riches they enjoyed from their fellowship with God were more valuable and worth the pain they might endure as a result of this faith.

It is important to note, the right perspective becomes easier to receive and accept once we have a greater understanding of who God is. The bible teaches us God does not tempt us with evil, but He will use our suffering to make us stronger, if we allow Him to. Once we learn this truth, we can now place our anger, blame and frustration on the real cause of our pain (Satan), knowing if we trust in God and His love for us, He will help us defeat our enemy. How frustrating it must be for the devil when He tries to ruin our lives with something, only for Jesus to turn it around and make us stronger through the painful ordeal!

When Jesus was dying on the cross, many people thought God was punishing Him for a crime He had committed. They also questioned His authority as the Son of God, since He "could not save himself"; but they were mistaken. They could not see the truth (of His redemptive work on the cross for our sin) because their hearts were not right, and because they did not have the right perspective. I pray that we all might become more obedient to the Holy Spirit and conform our entire lifestyle to His will, so that we may also see the truth in everything around us.