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When I woke this morning I turned to my phone and Bible app to get some thoughts for the day. My app has a daily scripture widget that I subscribe to. Today’s scripture was Psalms 116:1-2. As I read it and the rest of the chapter, I had a marginal relation to the passage. But it was in the past. Before when I cried to the Lord he heard me, but not now. Not that he doesn’t hear me now, but that I was crying to him. It wasn’t a “yes, this is God now” agreement with the scriptures. I read through, thought a bit, went back and read a couple a second time, searching for something to meditate on through the day and nothing really settled. I said a quick prayer for help this day and went on my way. 
This is how it has been lately. A struggle to read and pray, feeling a loss of connection, mostly out of duty even though a desire is there. An overwhelming sleepiness in the morning that hinders an early rise, a couple quick scriptures and prayer as one goes through the daily routine. 

But who can thrive or survive off of crumbs? You can’t physically or spiritually. In all honesty, I have always struggled with getting up early enough in the morning to set aside time for God. I have justified it in many ways over the years. While I have admired those that do and longed for it, the many times I have made a point to change, it only lasts for a short period of time. 

A while back I asked a friend to check on me. To ask how my morning devotions were going. To hold me accountable. I got the question today. I didn’t have a good report. I was honest, they have been awful of my own fault. I thought on it through the day. Why is it so difficult to get up? It’s not like the last broken 30 minutes of sleep are all that great. And while I don’t have a good reason, I can say that I’m ready. 
Ready to set time aside. Ready to deny myself for “just a couple more minutes” . Ready to go deeper. Ready for the victory.  You see, I spent some time tonight with God. I listened to a couple old messages. Words from the past on the man with the line, holding it out there for us to come through. On victory,  knowing the enemy, whose side you are on and why you are fighting. And on the surface these don’t have much to do with devotions, they clarified things in my mind. I went to prayer, I want God to draw out that line and I’m headed to meet it. I’m ready to go step by step deeper until I’m Swimming. I know whose side I am on. I know what he has done for me and I know who,  what and why I am fighting. God is so good. 

So when I read Psalms 116 tonight, it was deep. I could say “yes,  this is God now” I cried unto him and he heard me. He made a way, he listened, he showed mercy,  he forgave, he gave power. From searching for current relevance to a soul amen,  what a difference 16 hours makes. . . 

Psalms 116:1‭-‬19 – I love the Lord , because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.  Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.  The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.  Then called I upon the name of the Lord ; O Lord , I beseech thee, deliver my soul.  Gracious is the Lord , and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.  The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.  Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.  For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.  I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.  I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:  I said in my haste, All men are liars.  What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?  I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord .  I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.  Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.  O Lord , truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.  I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord .  I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people,  In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord .

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I was troubled this morning by a poor decision I made recently. I have struggled with this situation for quite a while. My heart’s desire has always been to please God and to keep things right. However, I have learned where my weakness is and the devil knows it also. He knows just where to push, just where to deceive to make it not seem as bad as it is, just when we feel vulnerable and weak. And too many times I have not leaned upon God’s strength to resist and overcome. I have tried to handle it on my own. You would think that I would have learned by now…and I am learning.

This morning in my prayer to draw closer to God, needing his strength to gain and keep the victory, wanting more of him, knowing it is only through God’s strength that I can move forward. As I was praying, I heard, “Seek my Face.” From the bottom of my heart, I said, “THY face Lord I seek.” I need to see you. I need to know you have the strength for me. I need to get the victory. I am done. I am tired of leaning on myself when I know your help is right there. I seek your face. I look for it. I meditate on it. I worship it. For in finding your face, the decisions will already be made when faced with the temptation, the victory will already be won before the battle is waged.

Psalms 27: 1, 7-9, 11, 13-14

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Judges 8:4  And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them. These men had just won a mighty victory, letting their lights shine and shouting the victory over the enemy, but the battle was not over; the enemy was still there. So they continued to press on, faint yet pursuing…..

2Corinthians 4:7-10  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

It doesn’t matter if we are faint, if we feel weak, if it looks hopeless, if the battle is long, if people don’t help us or understand. God says keep pursuing, don’t give up; continue to call on me; endure to the end; draw night to me; cast  your care on me; seek me early; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks

Isaiah 40:28-31  Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Thank you, Lord, for propping me up on every leaning side.

Trust God for your day, ….Today

He said “You must have clean hands in order to hold up the rod on the top of the mount.” He was referencing Moses as he went to the top of the mountain in order to see and direct the battle that Joshua and the Children of Israel fought against Amalek. Exodus 17:9-10

My heart drops, “Clean Hands”? Are my hands clean? My mind goes back, how has my motive been? What have I been doing? How have I spoken? Am I worthy to hold up the Rod, the power of God as I view the battle God has set before me?

I skid to a stop. It’s there, a spot. God I’m sorry. Show me how I can clean my hands. I need to be able to get to the top of the mountain, I need to be in my place. Forgive me please, for over-riding the check, for going a head with what I thought might be ok, for thinking I could handle it, for not crucifying my flesh. My strength doesn’t matter, my obedience does.

As I plead forgiveness, make a determination to take a stand and have the victory, I see God, in his mercy, wash away the spot with the blood of Jesus. That is all that can keep us clean.

God help me to live a life that is transparent. One that I wouldn’t be ashamed to share any aspect, one that I could shout from the roof tops. I don’t want to have any spot of reproach on my hands. I want to be clean.

I claim the power of God, with the rod in my hands I climb to the top and the view is clear. God is victorious, the Church is going forward, and I am among them.

You know those times when you are battling a feeling or oppressiveness and you don’t really know where it is coming from or what to call it? Well I have been in one of those times in varying levels of intensity for the past couple years. A couple weeks ago I got a lot of help on this, we had a message about the Courage of Faith. How it takes courage to continue on in faith. Ruth was used as the example, leaving her home and going to a new place where she didn’t know what was to happen, but with courage in the faith of Naomi and in Naomi’s God she went. Ruth was facing pain, loss, uncertainty and being disconnected, yet she went by faith with Naomi.

When those 4 things were mentioned, it was like the Pastor was talking about me, in the past 2 years I have been overwhelmed at times with pain, loss, uncertainty and being disconnected, and yet I held on. It was so good to hear that my holding on (for dear life) was courage and not just plodding along. At times I had felt like I was just plodding along, making it, with no thought of turning around, but going through a battle. But to hear that it was my courage in Faith in God that was initiating each step, I could almost feel my spirit with in straighten, stand a little taller and lift it’s head. No the battle hasn’t changed, but being able to call my daily step, a step of courage and not of desperation to hold on to the only thing I have left, has been good.

This last Thursday there was a follow up on Courage in Faith, with Courage to be Alone. This is another feeling that I have had during this time. Feeling alone in the battle, that no one else truly understands, that I don’t have anyone that I can really talk to about it all. But through the message, there was the reminder that it is an awesome thing to be alone with God, that in those times we have to face somethings that we may not want to face, but if we are with God, he gives us the courage to be alone with him. And all along and looking back, I knew that I wasn’t alone, that I had God with me, but those are the feelings that the enemy wants to bring upon us to keep us discouraged. It is a good thing to be alone with God, to hear from and commune with him. And he will bring just what we need.

As I write this now, I think about the blessings that God has given me and how he has provided. I think again of Ruth, she had the courage to go in faith, and look how God used her. She is in the lineage of David and of Christ. Because of her faith all of her needs were met and she was used by God in a mighty way. If we keep Ruth as the example, we will know that if we keep our courage in faith, live with hope when life is hopeless, that God will provide each need (he promised to) and he will be able to use us.

I was reading this morning in Romans 8, a popular passage about what/who can separate us from Christ. It added another layer of encouragement along these same lines.

What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God in on our side?] He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?] Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?

Who shall separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter.

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God with is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 Amplified Bible

I am so thankful to have the assurance that no matter what the Devil will put in my way, who may talk against me, how my life turns out or the needs I may have, I can have victory through Christ. I love how the scripture says “YET amid all these things (In the varying tests and trials of life) we are MORE than conquerors (we have/can overcome each of them) and gain a SURPASSING victory (our victory is above and beyond the trial) through HIM who loved us (all because Christ is our strength.)

In the courage we have in faith and being along, we can take comfort that nothing will sever our relationship with God, we can have the victory in everything, and Christ will never leave us.

Take courage, in faith and in being alone.

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