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Thriving in the Wilderness (Abiding & Intimacy with God Series Part 11) 

  
Photo Source: Christi Gee

We can thrive in any season if we surrender to God and seek to understand the process and His timing. The wilderness is a call to intimacy (deeper knowing of God). 

Moses spent 40 years in the desert, unseen by many before he was called by God to return to free his people. Jesus did not enter ministry full-time until He was 30 years old. David was hidden, overlooked, and even rejected by his earthly father before he became king. 

Our culture seeks to bypass process. There are things we can only learn about God in the secret place, the hidden place, the wilderness. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the devil for 40 days (Matthew 4:1). The attempt to bypass all testing, trials, challenges is a invitation to perpetual immaturity, and limited authority. We gain authority over what we have overcome. 

Attempting to shortcut the process is an invitation to bypass character development, and intimacy with God. Character is important. Anointing and gifting will take a person places their character can not stand under. Self promotion and self acceleration is a sure fire way to eventually crash and burn. 

God develops our trust in Him alone in the wilderness and unsupported season. 

I used to be discouraged when I could not get any support. People were concerned with their lives. I spent a period of life sad that I was walking through the seven levels of hell while others were frolicking in the promised land. I watched them acquire everything I was praying for and I had to press on with God. 

They had no wilderness, no fierce trials, no Goliath. I on the other hand was walking through 7 years of real persecution, loss, tragedy, near death experiences, periods of physical illness, betrayal, being lied on/slandered, on one occasion left to die (people drove on by), and meeting Goliath after Goliath. As a young person, it certainly was not how I wanted to spend my life. 

I learned some very valuable things. 

1. God + Nothing=Everything. 

These profound lessons are not learned if you go from one red carpet to another. They are not learned if everyone is holding your arms up all the time. It is not learned in the seasons of roses and skipping along the water path. 

Many great lessons are learned in the Garden of Gethsemane. They are learned when no one will help you, they ignore your need, pretend they do not see you. They are learned when God allows you to be placed in the battle with Goliath then ties your arms behind your back and the battle rages on longer than you think your flesh can stand, for me years. You learn God as Best Friend, Victor, Healer, Provider, Strength, Strong Tower…Everything. 

2. Your frailty, weaknesses, and unbelief is exposed and dealt with by the One who is strong in your weakness. 

It is easy to believe God when everything is going your way. When everyone is applauding! When it is good. In the wilderness, times of pressing, persecution, trials what we truly believe is exposed. Do we believe God is good when life is in turmoil? God works out deep faith in the seasons no one sees if we stay connected to Him. 

3. You have chances to fail without casualty. 

I never asked God for a platform or influence. I asked to know Him, be one of His best friends, and to have the character of Jesus. I specifically asked to be held back from any influence that would not bring Him glory. 

In the process, hidden seasons you have the chance to try things, step out in faith, and not have it negatively impact many people. So many people want a platform, yet their character is not developed. They end up hurting people or leading people into mass deception. They bucked correction, accountability, and character development. They know of God, read of God, yet have not experienced Him in every season. They have not been to battle, they have not had their faith tested by fire, and therefore what they offer is not always based on encounter. It is based on what has been read, or heard. 

4. You learn to pray with authority, abide in God. If you do not, you die. 

When God is your Primary, the violent waves and winds are crashing against your boat…well you learn to pray. You learn to cling. You learn His voice. My goodness you learn. Your identity becomes solidified in Him alone. 

5. You let God open and close doors and shift seasons. Who God promotes, no person can demote. 

Seeking the approval of man is futile. Mankind can love you today and hate you tomorrow. Just as they did with Jesus. Trying to push open a door is wasted time. Anyone who pushes their way in front of God in their flesh will need to operate in the flesh to stay there. Who God calls, He equips. God promotes. God demotes. God’s timing is perfect. When God opens a door, you are fully equipped to walk through that door. 

Sweet friends, no matter your season, God is there. The most important question is, “Is God here?” Staying connected to God is the way to thrive in every season. Therefore, we bear fruit in every season. The objective is not to see our names in lights. It is to know God, love God, and establish more of His Kingdom on earth. 

If you are in the wilderness, a season of testing and challenges…please know it is not permanent. Relief does come. May your faith and heart not fail. You are so deeply loved and if you are in Christ, the Spirit of an Overcomer lives in you! Lifting you up before our King in love. 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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When Life Makes You Want To Run From Jesus!

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Photo Credit: the Soul Doctor

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you, Duet 31:6.

The words of Deuteronomy 31:6 are so comforting to my soul. I don’t know about you, but life has dealt me some challenging circumstances. In hard and challenging seasons one of the greatest temptations presented to us is to run from God instead of to Him.

The enemy of our souls whispers,

“If God loved you, your life wouldn’t be this way.”

“If God were so good, then why aren’t your prayers being answered?”

“If God cared about you, your circumstances would be better.”

“Look God’s blessing everyone but you!”

The problem with the whispers of the enemy is that he’s a liar. God’s goodness and love are not determined by our circumstances. Love is who He is. Goodness is an attribute of His character.

Another great truth is:

Jesus already overcame the world and our greatest enemy death!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

When God Doesn’t Remove Your Challenges:

God doesn’t remove every challenge from our lives. Why? I can’t answer for everyone. I can only give you some insight from scripture and my own life.

1. Delay isn’t always denial. Sometimes the manifestation of our prayer requests or God’s promises don’t immediately surface. Think Abraham and Sarah, Hannah, Mary and Martha for Lazarus…the answer to their prayers didn’t immediately surface. God’s timing isn’t always our timing.

2. God’s no runs deeper than what we see on the surface. We see in part and know in part. God sees every detail and though it hurts at times, we have the choice to trust Him or not trust Him.

3. God promises to never leave us in the midst of challenging circumstances. The greatest intimate moments I’ve had with God have been during seasons of great pain. Jesus was the only One I felt safe enough to talk to or confide in, and He’s safe. Also, Jesus doesn’t mind our tears! He isn’t put off by brokenness, pain, or the hurting. He’s not too busy or too important in His own eyes to reach low to raise us up high.

4. We forget we have a very busy adversary. He’s not more powerful than God; He’s still busy. He can’t steal your salvation. He can try to discourage, oppress, and harass you. I heard a respected pastor say, “If you never face any opposition, you may not be following Jesus.”

The enemy has been defeated, it’s our responsibility to recognize he’s not bigger or more powerful than God, yet he attempts to bully those God loves.

5. Some trials produce perseverance. Some, not all. I don’t like when people take every situation and say, “God is teaching you something.” Yes, God is big and strong enough to take any situation and use it. I don’t believe He authors every situation to teach us something. We live in a sinful world. Some situations are orchestrated by the enemy to destroy people things like abuse, rape, murder, slavery, incest, violence…

A friend gave me a helpful analogy once. A surgeon and a butcher both cut things open. The butcher to kill. The surgeon to heal. God is the master surgeon! The devil is the butcher.

What About Jesus, He Suffered:

For those who use the life of Jesus as a model for suffering; note, Jesus’s death was for a reason, purpose, to save the lives of many. Many people believe their horrible circumstances are from God, when they may not be.

I hope these points encourage you to run to Jesus instead of away from Him. He’s suffered in ways we could not imagine. There’s no one who knows how you feel and how to heal like Jesus!

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in From the Author, God's Heart

 

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When God’s Answer Doesn’t Seem to Match Your Prayers

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For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose, Romans 8:28.

Have you ever asked God for something and His answer did not seem to match your request? I have numerous times. This year I asked God for a year free of trauma, people close to me dying, and to save more money. It’s February 2nd and in the past week, I have been a car accident where my car was totaled, my aunt died, and I have another family member in critical condition in the hospital. I would have paid off my car next week. I would have had no car payment and been eligible for overtime. Since I was off due to the accident, the overtime is gone and if you’re working you know most people are making less money this year due to the social security tax in the USA going from 4.2 to 6.2 percent. So, the saving money part isn’t going the way I would like at the moment.

Let’s get to the good part of the story. What has God done the past week? Well, I suffered minor injuries from the accident, and I could have been killed or hospitalized. I missed landing in a frozen pond by a few feet. I was able to turn to miss hitting a utility pole head on. A friend came to be with me and help me the day of. The tow was free. Everything I have needed has been provided. Every day my pain is less and less. Every day I feel God’s love in a deeper way. I have not found a car replacement, but I am trusting God to do something great. I trust God even more with my life. I had no control over what happened last Friday. I simply had to trust God. I have seen in a greater capacity what God can do when we rely fully on Him, trust Him, believe Him, and seek Him. He is good.

Losing loved ones:

I grieve for any person who leaves this world without knowing God. In my mind, that is the worst case scenario. For my family members who know Jesus and leave this world for the next, I can rejoice. They were not healed here, but they have their complete healing in eternity. No pain, no sorrow, no weeping, no hurt, and bliss in the full presence of God. It hurts to lose someone we care for. It’s challenging to see any blessing in loss. I am not here to state we should throw a party or not grieve. Mourning is part of life. What I am saying is that God has a reason for allowing certain things to happen that we may never understand in this life.

When my mum died. I worshiped through abundant tears. It hurt me deeply, and I still have moments of sorrow. I could not understand why God would take her home. Why in this case He chose to not bring complete healing this side of eternity. I recall though sitting with her the week before she died. She said to me, “I am going home.” I responded, “No that’s not true, you’re getting better.” She replied,” No, I am going home. I have done everything God called me to do and now it’s time to go home.” She had asked God to take her home when she completed what she was placed on earth to do. She asked God to take her home if she were not going to be completely healed and a burden to others. God honored her prayers not ours.

When God’s answer does not seem to match our prayers, we can trust in His infinite wisdom, His unfailing love, and His perfect will.

So, my dear friends, if God’s answer doesn’t match your prayers, trust Him. I can say that because I have to trust Him every day. I have to lean on Him as my life depends on Him. I am young person who feels like I have lived a thousand years. But I would not trade my experiences and hard times for they have taught me so much about the love, provision, care, comfort, friendship, and beauty of God. I dare not glory in hardships, I delight in God who makes all things beautiful in His time. He gives us beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and peace for turmoil. These momentary afflictions are nothing compared to His love. As long as God is here, we have a hope that will not disappoint. Hang in there! Keep seeking His face. He loves you deeply!

Lastly, I found this online and it brought great comfort.

I asked for strength,
And God gave me difficulties to make me strong;

I asked for wisdom,
And God gave me problems to learn to solve;

I asked for prosperity,
And God gave me brain and brawn to work;

I asked for courage,
And God gave me dangers to overcome;

I asked for love,
And God gave me people to help;

I asked for favors,
And God gave me opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted – I received everything I needed.
My prayer has been answered!

You are in my thoughts and prayers today friends…You are deeply loved.
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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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Encountering the Perfect Father in a Dark World

“I have told you these things so that in Me you would have peace. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world,” ~Jesus. John 16:33.

Written by Erin Lamb, all rights reserved.

The photo above was taken the day my friend David died. David was the type of person you wanted to know. David was the first person to show up when someone needed help, and he was willing to sacrifice his life for others. He radiated God’s love. He loved, served, and helped so many. He gave his life working on the restoration of Haiti. He was murdered this February while serving orphans in Haiti. In the midst of building an orphanage He was robbed and shot. His death tore my heart in many places.  I wept and wept. Why do I share this with you? We live in a world that is filled with pain, suffering, wrongful death, sickness, disease, hatred, abuse, abandonment, and sorrow. In the midst of it all you may wonder how someone can say that God is good. How can we say God is love? If He is so good and loving, then why is our world filled with so much darkness.

It all started with one man, Adam. God made man in His image. He placed man on earth and said, “This is your dominion, rule and reign,” Genesis 1. Adam had everything he needed. God gave him beautiful landscape, all the food he could eat, a lovely wife, and complete communion with Him. He also gave Adam the ability to choose for himself what he wanted to do. Fast forward. Eve is deceived by the crafty serpent and Adam sinned. This is where death, destruction, sickness, and darkness entered our world, Genesis 3. Not only that, Adam surrendered authority and dominion to the devil. If you believe in God, you must believe in the devil. Evil exists and he propagates it. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy, John 10:10. He hates people. He hates love. He loves it when people blame God for his activities. He sows hatred, division, strife, death, and evil in our world.

Did God leave us helpless? Absolutely not. Jesus came, lived a perfect life, and died on a cross to restore us to right relationship with God and take back the authority Adam gave to evil. Jesus fixed the problem, we don’t always see the evidence of His work. He took back authority and dominion for those who believe in Him. Jesus provides hope and healing for those who lean on Him, and He cheated our worst enemy, death. Those who believe in Him will inherit everlasting life, John 3: 16. He handed over the authority He took back to every believer. He paid for it all. Jesus is the solution.

So, why doesn’t God rid the world of all evil? Loaded question. I will give you my understanding, but recommend you ask Him yourself. I believe that love involves freedom. God gives us the freedom to choose Him. If He was the only option, then there would be no choice. I believe God is already victorious and though our world looks dark, He continues to work through His children to bring peace, love, joy, healing, and heaven to earth. I believe and know He will make all the wrongs right. I believe that if we trust God we will see that the end of the story is better than any of the suffering we have witnessed. I believe that God is good and though He is blamed for evil, nothing in His nature is evil. I have seen Him turn tragedy into triumph, victims into victors, and the worst of situations into something beautiful. We (humans) still have the ability to choose evil. God won’t force us to love. So, when you fill a planet with people who can choose evil, there will be evil.

How do I deal? Good question. Prayer is powerful. Since God gave people dominion on this planet, He moves when we pray and ask for help. I hate to admit it but until heaven, there will be evil in the world. I’ve found no greater solution than prayer. I pray. You pray. We pray, and we ask God for help.

Final thoughts. I’m not a person typing to you who hasn’t suffered. One day maybe I will share my story in its entirety. I know what it’s like to endure physical and great emotional pain. I have had more than one near death experience. I have seen God do amazing things because someone prayed. I have seen Him heal the sick, bring life to dead situations, and so much more….You are loved my friends. No matter what you have faced in life or will face, God LOVES you! He is your best advocate. Praying you are blessed this week, beyond measure.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Devotions, From the Author, God's Heart

 

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