Standing Strong Through the Storm

Duration: 365 days

FAITH AND FEAR

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:38-40

Storms often bring out our true spiritual condition. Jesus was in the boat but the disciples still feared for their lives. He chastised them for their fear and their little faith! Thus our greatest need is not for the storm to end but to be freed from fear and have faith in Him while the storm rages.

At an SSTS seminar in Central Asia, our translator looked at us at the close of our three-day session and commented, “Thank you for teaching us how to stand strong. God spoke to me a lot through this seminar. I was afraid to die but not anymore. I have peace to go and spread God’s Word.” She is now serving the Lord in a dangerous but strategic mission in her region.

A middle aged man in North Korea was arrested after the police found a Bible in his home. He was terribly beaten and certain he would die. A Christian friend said, “When he came to faith, he made the decision that one day he would die for Christ. Every Christian in North Korea has made that choice. Every Christian in the country has the spirit of martyrdom in him. If you lose that spirit for one second, you cannot carry the burden of being a follower of Jesus.”

A significant factor in dealing with fear—especially fear of dying—is realizing that we are already dead in Christ (Galatians 2:20). Former Open Doors colleague, Hector Tamez, says that this concept is clearly seen in the lives of Christians living in war zones of Latin America. The Christians, who were caught in the civil war between the government and Shining Path guerrillas in Peru, are a classic example for us. Here is how Hector expresses their commitment:

They know that they are going to be killed. And they say, “In order to be a Christian here, you have to recognize that you are already dead in Christ. Once you recognize this, then any day that passes by in your life is a gain.”

In some countries, surviving one day or one year means that you have one God-given day or year to testify not only with your words but with your deeds. Fear should not control your life! Christ should control your life!

RESPONSE: When storms come my way, I will let them help me assess my own spiritual condition. I will affirm God’s power to overcome fear and live by faith in Him.

PRAYER: Ask God to forgive you for your times of fearfulness and lack of faith. Pray that all members of the persecuted church would have faith in Jesus like these Peruvian believers.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

When I Momentarily Give Up on God – Daughters of Promise – January 4

WHEN I MOMENTARILY GIVE UP ON GOD
by Christine Wyrtzen

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. Psalms 4:6-7

David and his closest advisors are on the run from his son Absalom. The king and his royal court are living in hills and caves. How un-king like. Doesn’t this give us a picture of the political shifting in the Middle East today? Leaders are deposed quite easily by an overnight revolt. David is innocent. His son is evil – following the promptings of the prince of darkness. Things appear to have deteriorated permanently.

His closest advisors certainly think so as David overhears them ask the question, “Who will show us some favor, Lord? Will you?” They refer to the Aaronic blessing from Numbers. ‘May the light of His favor shine upon you and give you peace.’ They long to see proof of it. Momentarily, they have given up on God because of their dire circumstances.

David, amazingly, hasn’t lost sight of who God is and what God has promised him. He sincerely tells them that God has put more joy in his heart, in his present circumstances, than the joy his enemies feel as they sit on their stolen throne. There has to be a lot of spiritual preparation before a storm for a child of God to know such things. All the more reason for me to prepare for dark times because they will come to all of us. My response is shaped ahead of time ~ in the light.

Has God’s favor left me when I am persecuted? No more than it left Jesus as He walked to Calvary. Jesus could separate His circumstances and the hatred of others from the favor of His Father and his awaiting glorification. When I’m giving up on God, what can I focus on?

•  I am still forgiven of every thing I’ve ever done.

•  I am still dressed in the undeserved righteousness of Jesus.

•  I am still walking toward a destiny that no man can steal.

•  I am loved unconditionally by my Father though I suffer the arrows of another’s scorn.

•  I can rest in every single promise God has made to me. Not one has been taken back.

•  I am bathed in the favor of God and every spiritual enemy can see it.

Though I may look at others today and see that their personal power is at its height, that their grain and their wine abound, I must know that it is fleeting. I must also ask the question, “At what cost are they enjoying their power? Whose favor is really upon them?” As our daughter, Jaime, said as we recalled our favorite childhood stories, “Let me be Cinderella who had it rough for a period of time. In the end, she inherited the kingdom. The entitled step sisters were nowhere to be found.”

Indeed! Present circumstances mean nothing if they beg to nullify my awaiting glorification.

I consider all the reasons I might give up on You. None of them will stand. In Jesus’ name, Amen

For more from Christine Wyrtzen and Jaime Wyrtzen Lauze, please visit www.daughtersofpromise.org

The Help Of Humans – One Year Devotions for Men

Stop putting your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. How can they be of help to anyone? – Isaiah 2:22

Amidst all the euphoria of the new millennium, some advertisers did get a little carried away. One credit card company, for instance, announced that we would soon have a cure for all illnesses, live to be 200 but look like 30, and spend our vacations on Mars. All paid for with credit, courtesy of the credit card company.

Clearly the developments of the last century have been stupendous, and the possibilities for further development are superb. Human ingenuity is impressive. But why live to be 200 if I’m miserable being 50? And what good is looking like 30 if I feel like garbage? And what’s so exciting about a vacation on Mars if there’s nothing to do but look at red rocks and I’m not sure that I’ll have a job and a family when I get back? All this needs to be addressed. Fortunately, God did address it—many years ago!

Pride is a perennial human problem. The more we achieve, the more self-sufficient we become. The more ingenuity we display, the more arrogant we become. God is not impressed, because he knows that everything comes from him and without him we are nothing, can do nothing, and will achieve nothing. But we don’t believe it, so sometimes God has to take strong measures to get our attention and drive the lesson home.

This is what he did through Isaiah the prophet. Isaiah promised, “The arrogance of all people will be brought low. Their pride will lie in the dust. The Lord alone will be exalted” (Isa. 2:17). Of course, Isaiah was speaking primarily to his contemporaries. What he was predicting came true when God’s people were humbled in defeat and led into exile (see 2 Kings 25:1-21).

On a broader scale, though, the lesson applies to “all people.” And what precisely is the lesson? That “humans are as frail as breath” (Isa. 2:22). Accordingly, people should “stop putting [their] trust in mere humans . . . how can they be of help to anyone?” Human help is severely limited and unreliable. So, ultimately, we need to swallow our pride and rely on God. Then we will receive his help. He will be of help to everyone who trusts in him!

If your ambition is to live till you’re 200 and look like 30, your credit card may be able to help. But if your goal is to live forever and be like Jesus, it will be no help at all!

For Further Study: Isaiah 2:6-22

Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for MenCopyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit TellingtheTruth.org.

God Meant it For Good – Beloved Women – January 4, 2021

God Meant it For Good – Beloved Women – January 4, 2021

READ: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)

TODAY’S ENCOURAGEMENT: We read in Genesis that Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, lied on, and faced wrongful imprisonment. This was a situation that would suck the hope out of any of us. However, it was this unfortunate sequence of events that the Lord used to position Joseph to become second in command in all of Egypt. When Joseph finally faced his brothers after everything he went through he had this to say: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Gen.50:20ESV)

What Joseph’s brothers used for evil, God used for good. What is the enemy throwing your way today? Discouragement, depression, fear, temptation, anxiety, intimidation? The enemy may very well have a few tricks up his sleeve to get you off your faith game but guess what? For every one of the enemy’s tricks God has a miracle. Be encouraged to know that what the enemy is using against you is the very thing God will use for you!

PRAY: Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to trust You over my difficulties. I believe You can work any situation out for my good. I love You. In Jesus Christ Name I pray. Amen.

REFLECT: Now I want to hear from you today Beloved! Please comment and let me know, has God turned a bad situation you were facing around in your favor? I can’t wait to read your testimonies below.

CONNECT: Study the Bible with Christina Patterson at www.belovedwomen.tv and connect with her on Instagram @ChristinaHPatterson.

MORE BELOVED: Join Beloved Women for our next online Bible Study “Worth More Than Rubies: A Bible Study on the 7 Virtues of the Proverbs 31 Woman.” This study takes a deeper look into not only what the virtues of a godly woman are but how we can gracefully and practically live them out to lead lives of faith, strength, and legacy. Learn more and join at https://www.belovedwomen.org/rubies.

© 2021 by Christina Patterson. All rights reserved.

For more Beloved encouragement including Daily Devotionals, practical advice for everyday Christian living, Bible Studies, and more be sure to visit us at www.belovedwomen.org.

Listen to Beloved Women’s Founder & President on her new podcast, Teach Us to Pray!

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