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I’ve been praying about what to write about for this week, and as always, the Holy Spirit is forever faithful. My prayer is that the beautiful souls who need to understand these truths will read this and step into a peace they have as yet never known.

I know I am not alone when I say there are seasons in our lives when it feels as if there are multiplied trials and battles. We ask ourselves, “What is happening?” In years and decades past, the majority of believers have looked at this question from the wrong perspective. It’s not what is happening that affects us deeply as why it is happening. We make the frequent mistake of measuring God’s love for us or His approval, based upon these circumstances. 

When I was in college, I took a speed-reading course. The objective was to take a book and be able to read the most important or vital facts or truths, while skimming over the fluff. I found in classes such as literature, conceptual math and science, and even some medical books the process was quite helpful. I passed the tests with flying colors. It sliced the long hours of study down to manageable increments. However, this process is not only useless but can be harmful when it comes to the Living Word of God, the Holy Bible. Every paragraph, every word matters when it comes to God’s Word.

This is not the time to be a lukewarm Christian. The closer we approach the end of this age; the less dependable natural things will become. In the days ahead, there will be more diseases medicine can’t cure. There will be financial and social divides that men can’t solve. The Bible tells us that the Church will be where the answers and the power is found. The love, the community, the care for one another is all found in the Body of Christ. What has that got to do with our battles and trials? If we are not fully 100 percent persuaded of our heavenly Father’s total, unconditional love for us, we’ll be vulnerable prey and be caught in the snare of attempting to earn His love and favor. It has never been more vital that we know our Lord, that we are fully persuaded that He is for us and not against us. And every answer and deliverance we require will come from Him because of His great, unfailing love for you and for me.

I know how critical it is that we believe in His love. I am reminded of numerous friends and acquaintances who are currently battling crippling illnesses, family breakdowns, and deep doubt and fear. I’ve written before of the years I also suffered horrific diagnoses. But by far my greatest suffering was not my natural body, it was my soul. 

I can remember the day I went to the altar to ask for prayer, and someone I held in great honor and respect spoke these words over me, “You had better find out what you are doing wrong, there must be something…because the next time this is going to actually kill you.” 

Had I been a mature Christian at the time, I would’ve been able to rebuke that lie immediately and just shrug it off. But I wasn’t. Our children were small, and I desperately wanted to be around to see them grow up and have families of their own. More than that, I wanted to know God truly loved me no matter what. 

Consequently, the years that followed can’t be described as anything less than life shadowed with torment and debilitating fear. I took those words into my heart, and I believed that my circumstances were a direct measure and reflection of God’s level of love and obvious disapproval of something in my life. Those who knew me during those years know I lived in constant fear. I prayed, repented, and fasted to try and find what invisible sin might be causing my trials. 

I remember praying a prayer that went something like, “Lord, even worldly people take care of those who are retarded or disabled. (In those years those words were accepted). I must be spiritually retarded. Lord, please just allow me to be a doorkeeper in Your Kingdom. Please have mercy on me and don’t turn me away.” What a warped view of the Father’s heart. 

It took years for me to come to understand I had received a word curse. During those years, whenever things went south I always blamed myself and tried to fix them. Glory to God for the day I finally was delivered from the power of those words! I now spend my days counseling and praying for others who are stuck on the “what” rather than the absolute truth of God’s love, approval, and plan for their lives. How does that deliverance come? It doesn’t come by speed reading the Bible. It doesn’t come by a spiritual diet of a three-sentence devotional of someone else’s experiences each day either. It comes by studying to show yourself approved. It comes through prayer, waiting upon Him, through long suffering, patience, trust, and needing only Him. Activity for God then gets replaced by communion with God. 

The moment you turn to the Lord, He’s there for you. You will never get voice mail such as, “You’ve reached God. I’m away from the throne now, please leave your name and message and I’ll try to get back to you.” Never! Don’t wait until hard times come to run to Him. 

In John 16:33 Jesus said in the world we will have tribulation. Everyone has trouble, saints and sinners alike. The difference is—believers won’t face it alone. God says, “I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”-Psalm 91:15. Who or what you have with you in a difficult situation makes all the difference between life and death. Jesus instructs us to abide in him. That means daily, 24 hours a day. He tells us if we fail to do so, and try and rely on the world, our frenzied attempts at self-righteousness, or other people’s tests or experiences, we will wither and die. 

The word “wither” means, “to shrivel; to lose focus, energy, or purpose; to lose freshness and life.” When Christians call upon His Name they shall be saved, but without abiding daily in Jesus Christ they won’t have the strength or discernment to produce anything. At that point, even if they hear others explain what to do, they’ll lack the focus or power to do it. It’s like the manna the Israelites ate — it had to be received and consumed fresh daily. 

“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”-Proverbs 4:20-23

What exactly does diligence imply? The dictionary defines it as, “to be constant in effort or exertion to accomplish what is undertaken; industrious; not idle or negligent.” Everything in your life begins in your heart. What you will have in your life tomorrow will be determined by what is in your heart today. When you face battles or trials, don’t concentrate on the “what,” but instead fill your heart with His Living Word, the Bread of Life. Stop allowing your heart to be crammed full of the cares and anxieties of the day. Truly, it boils down to one fact. Do you believe that God loves you wholly, unconditionally, and forever? When you feel broken and vulnerable, do you stand in the confidence that God is your father? Your enemy has been disarmed and decimated, along with the power of his condemning lies and shameful reminders of your past. Rise up child of God! Let the sun shine through the windows of your soul. Whatever you are facing will surely pass. Expect new and tremendous blessings to rain down over you.

“Herein is love; not that we loved God but that God loved us and sent His Son as the sacrifice for our sins.”-1 John 4:10

“I am my beloveds and He is mine; His banner over me is love.”-Song of Solomon 7:10

God loved you first.

Ruminate on that.