Growing In the Hard Places

Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:7 KJV)

Butterfly couple

I have lantana growing next to the deck surrounding my pool. Last month, I noticed a branch straining against the lattice.

Lantana

Later, that same branch pushed its way through the opening in the lattice to enter the darkened world beneath the deck.

lantana 2

It remained hidden until last week when it popped its head up between the decking and the new multi-colored blooms burst forth in the sunlight.

Although it is now in the scorching heat of the last days of summer, I’m not worried about it. The roots run deep beneath a patch of shaded wet earth that shields it from drought. As you can see, it’s flourishing. I should cut it so I can paint/stain the deck, but I won’t because I know how hard it worked to reach the sunlight.

Sometimes we have to change positions to get where we’re going. We may have to stretch or even shrink to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

Either way, growth isn’t easy. To grow, we must choose. Do I stay in my comfort zone where I am secure, or do I brave the unknown and seek the treasure God has in store for me?

Perhaps you’re squashed against a boundary with nowhere to turn.  Maybe you’re facing dark nights of uncertainty with the hounds of hopelessness nipping at your heels. Perchance you’re reaching as far as you can reach in prayer, but still, you can’t feel the touch of the Master’s hand. Take courage, dear one.

You are stronger than you think for your strength comes from our Lord Jesus Christ. His power gives us the ability to endure everything.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:11-13 KJV)

I do not believe that we can learn contentment without experiencing growing pains. Therefore, I have to believe that we can grow in the hard places if our roots are clinging to the Rock of Ages. He is our Bread and Water supply.

So I encourage you, dear reader, keep reaching heavenward. Soon, the darkened valley will give way to an expanse suffused with sunlight. Then, the Lord will unveil your beautiful colors for His glory alone.

Click to Tweet: Sometimes we have to change positions to get where we’re going. We may have to stretch, or even shrink, to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

Thank you for visiting and reading. You are appreciated more than you know. 🙂

 

 

Light, Salvation, and Strength

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? Psalm 27:1

During the past month, I’ve received prayer requests from family and friends. I’ve also read several prayer requests on social media. It seems we’re all experiencing one thing or another. This morning I wanted to take some time to encourage you. As I pondered on how to do that, my thoughts kept drifting to David’s words in Psalm 27.

Lighthouse matthaeus unsplash

Photo by matthaeus on Unsplash

When I read this scripture, I felt as if the Lord had spread a table before me. I love to feast on the Word. Don’t you? I hope the scriptures below are as sweet to you as they were to me.

In Strong’s Dictionary, we find several words for light, salvation, and strength.

Light

Words for light are illumination, luminary, and light

Illumination

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. Psalm 36:9

Salvation

He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. Psalm 62:2

Words for salvation include the following:

Liberty

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17

Deliverance

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke 4:18-19

Prosperity

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:25

Strength

Words for strength include fortified place, fortress, force, rock, strength, and stronghold.

Strength

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalm 18:2

Rock

Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71:3

Fortress

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:2

Stronghold

The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. Nahum 1:7

Though our circumstances may seem dark, we are called children of the day because He has called us into His marvelous light (1 Corinthians 3:17). We are not children of the night or the darkness. Yes. We may experience dark nights or even seasons of darkness, but we need not fear. God will deliver us from every situation.

He is Light, Salvation, and Strength.

He is my Light, my Salvation, and my Strength!

Strength in His Design

This past year, I’ve posted pictures with quotes about design.

This week’s design quote is by Charles Eames.

is a plan for arranging elements in a way that best accomplishes a particular purpose(1)

Design

Although design can pertain to many things, my thoughts when posting were on God’s design to help us live a victorious life. For example…

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Perfection refers to completeness and maturity. Paul said, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you” (Philippians 3:13-15 KJV).

Let’s not settle for imperfection, but let us press on that we may be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (See Matthew 5:48).

Good design encourages a viewer to want to learn more. Alexander Isley

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16 KJV).

Our lives are a testimony. And our actions always speak louder than words. Do our actions inspire others to learn more about Christ? Let us shine forth a light that others may see Jesus in us.

Great design is eliminating all unnecessary details. Minh D. Tran

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2 KJV).

Let us not get tangled up again in the yoke of bondage from which Christ has made us free (See Galatians 5:1 KJV). May we allow the Designer to remove all unnecessary details of our lives.

Strength

I haven’t forgotten about strength. Remember Webster’s definition of strength? It is the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force.

There are three responses to a piece of design—yes, no, and wow! Wow is the one to aim for. Milton Glaser

Jesus said, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-25 KJV).

It’s not only our actions that matter but our reactions. The way we react to certain situations tells the real story of what goes on when we’re alone. When our faith, hope, and trust is founded upon the Rock, we will withstand the storms of this life in a manner pleasing to our Designer. Let us be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (See Ephesians 6:10). For He is our strength and power, and He alone makes our way perfect (See 2 Samuel 22:33).

God’s design has a particular purpose. He alone knows the best design, gift, and plan for us. He also knows precisely what it will take for us to accomplish His purpose and to withstand every storm in this life. From “in the beginning” of Genesis to the final “amen” of Revelations, God’s design offers strength and life. All we must do is allow Him to transform us into the perfect design.

Click to Tweet: From “in the beginning” of Genesis to the final “amen” of Revelations, God’s design offers strength and life. @GailJohnson87 #trust #devotional

Photo courtesy of Pixabay