Fight the Good Faith

What does it mean to have faith? The Lord has recently brought to my memory Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV). We usually focus on the first part of the scripture about “things hoped for,” but the Lord has really caused me to dive deep into the second part of the verse: “the evidence of things not seen.”

He has spoken to me that the body of Christ too often gives up when we don’t see instant change. We pray, fast, read the Word, and then when we don’t see answers to our prayers right away, we give up. We start questioning God and become discouraged, doubting that He hears us. However, Hebrews 11:1 encourages us to keep the faith when we don’t see things changing. You may get attacked from every direction, but the Lord is working on your behalf, even though you might not see it. When you walk through the valley, the Lord will be with you (Ps. 23:4). Satan also knows when to attack you: when you’re struggling in your faith.

These are the areas in which Satan will attack you; but remember, you have God’s promises to see you through:

Physical: When you’re battling physically due to illness, you need to cling to the Word and God’s promises for your healing. Isaiah 53:5 says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (KJV). The Lord will give you the strength to keep pressing forward. Isaiah 40:31 says, “They who 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” (KJV).

Emotional: When Satan comes at your mind and confuses you, claim Second Corinthians 12:9: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (KJV). The Lord will not leave you or forsake you. The Lord will give you peace over your emotions and calm you. Second Thessalonians 3:16 encourages us, saying, “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all” (KJV). You do not need to fear because God is right beside you. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (KJV).

Relational: Satan is out to steal, kill, and destroy your family (Jn.10:10). However, the Lord wants to give you the desires of your heart to see your family whole and happy. Declare Psalms 37:4: “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of your heart” (KJV). The Lord wants you to live an abundant life. That includes the life of your family, whether it is with your husband, children, siblings, or parents.

Financial: There are times when financial attacks come. It is easy to allow fear to creep in and cause you to worry and stress that your bills won’t be paid and that you will lose your job or lose your home. Nevertheless, you need to trust the Lord to provide. He encourages us in Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (KJV). Trust that God wants His children to prosper in all areas of their lives. First John 4:4 says, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (KJV). If you’re not sure where to turn or which way to go, He promises to direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5–6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (KJV). God is with you in every situation, every struggle that you face. Joshua 1:9 reminds us: “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (KJV).

When you begin to feel that God isn’t working on your behalf in situations because you’re not seeing changes, DON’T GIVE UP! Know that God is always working things out for your good (Rom. 8:28). Just as a father wants the best for his children, so does your heavenly Father! So be encouraged and cling to the Lord and His promises in every situation.

 

Pearls of Grace

Owning pearls has been a luxury for centuries. They are beauties from the ocean that hold great sentiment. There are many imitations, but a real pearl will hold its value for years and years. In fact, pearls are heirlooms passed down through many generations. Appreciation of these natural gems began more than 5,000 years ago—long before the discovery of diamonds. In ancient times, people believed pearls were a gift from the heavens—the tears of angels. If the wearer was a new bride, the pearls she wore were believed to bring marital bliss.

My mother gave me a long strand of pearls that I had designed and made into three smaller, modern strands. I saved two of the strands for several years to give to my future daughters-in- law to wear on their wedding day. Seeing them wear the pearls on their special day was incredibly amazing. The third strand was made for me, to remind me of my mother and my two son’s weddings. Now my daughters-in-law and I are keeping our memorable strands of pearls to pass down to their daughters. I hope my three precious granddaughters will wear them someday and think of me and their great grandmother.

Looking at and touching priceless pearls causes me to reflect on the beauty and grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Matthew 13:45-46 says, “The kingdom of God is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (KJV). Jesus is truly our “Pearl of great price.” He paid the greatest price for us on Calvary when He died for our sins and gave us eternal life. He has surrounded us with amazing grace to overcome our failures. Just like a speck of sand inside the oyster’s shell, we are coated with His grace to become a beautiful pearl like Him.

How a pearl is made:

A grain of sand or even a parasite will somehow get inside the shell of the oyster. It then lodges itself into the folds of the flesh. The disturbed oyster will do all it can to rid itself of the irritant, but usually to no avail. Exasperated and annoyed by constant failure, the frustrated oyster begins to secrete a calcium-like milky substance called, nacre, which thoroughly coats the irritating intruder. This either smooths the rough edges of a sand grain or kills the parasite. Hundreds of layers of nacre are secreted, until something rare, precious, and beautiful is formed—a pearl! It usually takes three or more years for an oyster to produce a pearl large enough to be valuable. While this process is taking place, the inner lining of the shell is also coated with the nacre and this is called mother of pearl. These oysters are not for human consumption. The edible oyster has a chalky inner lining and doesn’t have the pretty mother of pearl lining. Pearls are found in many colors, but the most valuable are white. A good pearl has a delicate luster. The layering of nacre is translucent and allows light to pass through, which creates the luster and gives the faint rainbow color called iridescence.

Since receiving Jesus, the Pearl of great price into my heart, I desire to allow His character to be formed in me. Galatians 4:19 says, “Christ be formed in you” (KJV). The word formed means “the necessity of a change in character and conduct.” We are followers of Jesus and are being “formed” into the likeness of the great Pearl. We must be totally formed before we can have that iridescent luster and gem-like quality. How can this happen? The old ugly sin nature (our shell) must be coated with “Holy Spirit nacre.” It’s a lot like God’s grace—layer upon layer of beautiful grace. John 1:16 says, “From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (KJV). His wondrous grace covers us over and over until we are formed in Him.

All our perplexities, trials, and hardships are like the grain of sand or parasite that irritate and frustrate us. And just like the oyster, we struggle to rid ourselves of issues or change situations, often to no avail. Just as the oyster in deep frustration with his problem begins to secrete nacre, when we find ourselves at the end of our rope and tired from the problems of life, we lean on and trust in the Lord. As we do this, He releases Holy Spirit nacre to coat our lives with His grace until He is formed in us. I love the old song, “Amazing Grace.” It says, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” That is truly amazing!

Oysters are gathered by dragnets or by pearl divers, who often must descend to great depths. Of the thousands of oysters gathered, only a small number bear pearls and an even smaller number bear pearls of gem-quality. The nacereous shell of the pearl oyster is valuable for its mother of pearl.

We are valuable because of our salvation and the price Jesus paid for us. We are like the oyster shell that is coated with His beautiful mother of pearl presence. It surrounds us. It’s His gift to us! The luster that is iridescent inside the shell of the oyster gives the pearl its iridescent glow. Understanding this process causes us to want more of Jesus, His character, and His nature to be formed in us like a pearl. We want our lives to be like a gem-quality pearl that has an iridescent glow! And, the only way that can happen is to have adversity and pressure. The grain of sand or parasite that invades the oyster seems to have no value and is only an irritant. But, the struggle produces a substance of great value! Second Corinthians 4:17 says, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (KJV)

So, it is with us. Our affliction is working for us, not against us. Something beautiful and something good is being formed in us. It is hard to comprehend when something annoying and ugly is afflicting us. We can sometimes feel like we are in a dark black shell, like the oyster wrestling and hurting. It feels as though no one knows, cares, or understands the pain or sorrows we endure. Yet, in the dark times of secrets and tears, God sees us and lovingly layers grace upon grace inside our shell. As trust is developed and faith ignites, an iridescent glow begins to take place, and the glory of God shines in our lives. Grace is producing a lovely gem-quality pearl inside of us. That’s amazing!

 

The Pearl

A Pearl of great price I have heard it told, Is Your Kingdom since the days of old, A treasure far above diamonds or gold. A Pearl of great price, the Scripture reads, Not like you’d find on an ordinary strand of beads— Seek Me and you will find Me as the Holy Spirit leads. […]

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Every human heart wants to know, “Am I loved? Am I important? Why am I here on earth, and does my existence and life have purpose? Am I being fruitful in the world?” God’s response is, “Yes, you are loved. Yes, you are important. For I created you and filled you with purpose to make […]

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Growing up in Michigan, we were blessed to have relatives who owned vineyards. I’m sure that when most people think of vineyards they think of the more popular ones in California or in Italy. But there is a very small town in Michigan called Lawton that has beautiful rolling hills filled with vineyards that are […]

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Joy Grew in my Backyard

Often, between the stress and busy nature of our lives, we forget about joy. I am not talking about fun, happy moments, but true joy that comes from knowing and loving Christ. I see joy as a relationship that needs to be tended. It is always there, but if we do not safeguard it, it […]

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Praying with Power

To become a strong woman of God, it all starts with developing a powerful prayer relationship with Him. It’s in our face-to-face “alone time” with Him that He reveals His love to us and empowers us with a supernatural strength. He loves us and longs for us to come into His presence. In James 4:8, […]

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Thriving in the Desert: How to Flourish During Frustrating Times

Can you relate to a season in life in which you’re merely surviving, rather than thriving? Contrary to what you might think, I’ve learned through the years that those are often the times that God wants to draw us close.  My friend, Kris, was weary from all that she and her husband Robert had experienced […]

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