Romans 5:2-4 (Amplified Bible)
2Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God's favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.
3Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.
4And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
People of God sometimes give the devil too much credit. When trials come, many Christians chalk it up as an attack of the enemy. But I found out that it was me. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was me. What I found out is that God was building character in me. I am so much more mature spiritual than I would have been. When the rug is pulled from under you and all you have to stand on is the Word of God, that's what you do. I learned to take it by force. 2008 was a year of endurance training. In 2009, you will practice what you learned.
The beginning of a new year is usually a time of reflection for most people. Some people reflect on the year that has passed. They reflect about the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, even the failures. Some people resolve to do things differently in the new year. I have been looking back over my life lately. I was thinking about all the times that God stepped down out of glory and intervened in the affairs of my life. I thought about the times that the enemy tried to kill me but couldn't. I remembered times when God gave me things that I didn't even deserve. I remembered the times He provided. The times when I thought I would come unglued and He held me together. Every once in a while we need to look back at the years that are behind us. Those things remind us that God is worthy of the glory, honor, and praise. They add to our testimony. Things that were big at the times and seemed like insurmountable obstacles, we made it through. Hallelujah!
Give God praise right now wherever you are for bringing you over those mountains. If you're at work you may have to take a praise break. Go to the bathroom for just a minute and give God praise if you have to.
For Every Mountain - Kurt Carr
In life there will always be times when we are affected by the actions of another person. When this happens, we often receive an apology. More often than not we say, “It’s alright,” or “ It’s okay,” and by saying this we are allowing, accepting, and giving permission for the behavior to happen again. When we say “thank you,” or “I accept your apology,” we are forced to sit in our feelings rather than ignore them.
There are many of us who feel that it is easier to brush off how we really feel than to express our discomfort with something that has happened to us. While this may initially seem like the best thing to do, what it really does is put us into an unending pattern of behavior; since we are not honest with another person, we continue the cycle of letting them overstep our emotional limits time and time again. By doing this we place ourselves in the position of victim. We can put an end to this karmic chain by first acknowledging to the other person that we accept their request for forgiveness; often a simple “thank you” is enough. To truly create a greater sense of harmony in our relationship, however, we need to gently, and with compassion, express our innermost concerns about what has transpired. By taking a deep breath and calling upon the deepest parts of our spirit, we can usually find the right words to say and verbalize them in a way that lets the other person recognize the consequences of what they have done.
If we can remember that our response to others is important, we can begin to realize that trust and forgiveness go hand in hand. And when we react in a way that engenders a greater amount of honesty and candor, we will establish a more positive and empowering way of being and interacting others.
The Lord recently showed me that 2009 will be a year of favor, grace, and change. Favor is God's graciousness extended to us; grace is His undeserved favor. We are saved from sin and given new life through God's grace, not our own efforts (Ephesians 2:8-10); and we walk in our new life in Christ through grace and faith (Colossians 2:6-7).
In this coming year of change, we will be given favor and grace to be flexible, adjust, and thrive amidst various changes. Change in and of itself is not necessarily something to be feared or avoided, for the Lord Himself said, "Behold, I will do something new; now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?" (Isaiah 43:19) and "Behold, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:5).
Jesus Proclaimed the Favorable Year
Jesus proclaimed the favorable year of the Lord. At the synagogue in Nazareth, the town where He grew up, He read from Isaiah 61, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, and to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." Then He added, to the astonishment of His listeners, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:16-21).
Likewise, in our own day, God is bringing prophecies to pass before our eyes as creation ramps up for the second return of Christ. He is speaking. Are we listening? He is doing something new. Will we take notice?
God spoke to Isaiah and to us about His favor: "In My favor I have had compassion on you" (Isaiah 60:10), and "In a favorable time I have answered you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you" (Isaiah 49:8). Paul exhorts us to receive God's grace, quoting this very Scripture then adding, "Behold, NOW is the acceptable (favorable) time; NOW is the day of salvation!" (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
The Lord wants to extend His favor and grace to you in His NOW time! For those who have seen God as a harsh judge instead of a loving Father, He has a special blessing of healing and freedom awaiting you. It is yours - claim and receive it!
The Psalms speak of times of favor to see answered prayer. David said, "My prayer is to You, oh Lord, at an acceptable (or favorable) time" (Psalm 69:13). He also urged in Psalm 32:6, "Let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found" (at an acceptable, or favorable time; literally, "in a time of finding out").
He is both a revealer of mysteries (Daniel 2:29, 47), and a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). God allows Himself to be found by us (2 Chronicles 15:4, 15). He wants to visit His people (Luke 1:68) with favor and grace, and inhabit our lives with His Holy Spirit (John 3:34).
References to God's Favor and Grace
As the month of November 2008 drew to a close, the Lord began speaking to me about preparing for 2009. He instructed me to begin studying the book of Luke. As I did, He showed me that this coming year would be a time of His favor and grace, as well as a time of change.
The first chapter of Luke contains references to God's favor:
• Favor was extended to Zacharias, and his prayers for a child were answered (Luke 1:13).
• Elizabeth became pregnant, and said, "The Lord has looked on me with favor, to take away my disgrace" (Luke 1:24-25). DISgrace is the opposite of grace and favor.
• Mary was called "the favored one." She had found favor with God (Luke 1:28, 30).
God also revealed His grace through unexpected visits from angels:
• Zacharias received an angelic visitation from Gabriel (Luke 1:11-20). After baby John was born and Zacharias was able to speak again, he said, "God has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people" (Luke 1:68).
• Mary also was visited by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38).
• Shepherds experienced angelic visitation (Luke 2:8-14).
• Joseph was visited by an angel in his dreams (Matthew 1:20; 2:13, 19-20).
• The Lord sent warnings to the wise men and Joseph through dreams (Matthew 2:12, 22).
God wants to dwell within us and not just visit occasionally. He wants to inhabit our lives with His power and grace. One of the prophesied names of Jesus was Emmanuel, which means, "God is with us" (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 8:10). Angelic visitations are unusual, powerful and miraculous, but even more wonderful is God's presence within us through the Holy Spirit.
Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and wise men all received visitations of God's favor and were radically changed as a result. They were also given grace to deal with and adjust to these changes. So we do not need to fear change, for He has promised to be with us and never leave us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).
Change is Coming for 2009
The Lord spoke to me about change on November 15, 2008:
"Change isn't always bad. Allow Me to reform your thinking about change.
"Change is coming. I am the God of change, for I change men's hearts and do something new (Isaiah 43:19). My change is not like the world's change. My peace is not like the world's peace (John 14:27), for I bring lasting peace and change to hearts and souls.
"I hold the world in My hand. I hold the nations in My hand, and turn the hearts of kings (Proverbs 21:1). I hold your nation in My hand. I am at work in your land to bring My change.
"Lift up your hearts and rejoice, for I am your God. Look to Me, not to a particular man or political party. Continue to call on Me and trust Me."
May God bless you in this coming year with His powerful presence and habitation!
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