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Graceful Perseverance: The Three Seasons of Life (Part 2 of 3)

Posted March 18th, 2018 @ 09:03am

This week's blog is part two of a three-part series called The Three Seasons of Life. Today, I'm discussing the second season, the testing season. How and why God tests his children is a mystery. What do we need to do and what do we need to watch for? What life tests do we need to pass, if any, in order to make it in The Lambs Book of Life?

i.e. The Lambs Book of Life - Not everyone has his or her name written in the Lamb's Book of Life! One's name is not written in at birth, nor does he or she have it written in by the sovereign choice of God. A person's name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life only because he or she chooses to ask God to place it there. - The Lamb's Book of Life:

Once we have passed all tests specifically designed for us, what are God's next assignments for us while we are here on this earth? We think there are so many unanswered questions, but the answers are in His word, the roadmap of our lives.

The second season is the testing season. But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold. - Job 23:10.

The season of testing is very similar to the season of teaching, except the season of testing requires we realize that the world we live in is full of temptations. The media overwhelms us with greed, lust and cynicism which then becomes a vicious and ugly trap. Even though none of us are immune to this exposure, we do have free choice in the matter. The Internet, commercials and social media are forever tempting us to buy, spend, and invest in things of this world.

Social media is forever luring us into sinful acts, whether personal or in a social setting. The buying temptations lure us to the belief that we never can have enough. We are convinced "retail therapy" works in our lives, but only ends up becoming a financial hardship because we fall victims to the temptations all around us. We all have favorite stores, shops and restaurants and when we visit them, we can get swallowed up by the potential harm we may be causing ourselves financially.

The credit card frenzy tempts all of us to buy, buy and buy with more and more plastic. The credit card industry has made it too easy to first get a credit card and then the second temptation is increasing the credit limit so we can purchase even more. As we accumulate more and more stuff, we discover we are headed for financial disaster.

Do not love the world or anything in the world...The world and it's desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. - 1 John 2:15, 17.

The pressure to own more and better stuff than our neighbors is nothing but a evil trap and does nothing but weigh us down. To combat these temptations, we must stay in daily communication with the Lord, praying for protection and discernment.

Second, we must stay alert in order to recognize the battle of temptation that is being waged against all of us.

Believers must live with the tension of being in the world, but not belonging to it. ~ Hezekiah.

What some of us do not realize is God is the God of ownership of all things. God owns everything in and of this world. He is the creator of all things. We own nothing. In faith, God owns everything; we know God owns everything; by earthly measures we know man only owns some things. But know that God is a free and generous God, and He blesses us with things to tend to, and matters for us to manage while we are here (our families, children, jobs, homes).

He knows the desires of our heart. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4. We should also learn that what He blesses us with can also be taken away. We need to realize we are not owned by stuff, we are owned by Christ. Test me, Lord and try me, examine my heart and my mind. - Psalm 26:2. Passing this test of temptation in this world means we are living in freedom, a Christ freedom, a Christ freedom life from earthly bondage. Believers must live with the tension of being in the world, but not belonging to it. ~ Hezekiah.

Christ is the only open hand in this life, not things or stuff in this world. His expectation is also a test of the temptations. An obvious test would be that of a millionaire's life. With all his riches, does he live in a mansion and horde his money for his own or does he help by giving to others like the less fortunate, the homeless or the weak who surround him everyday? Does he live in a mansion and doesn't give to others? Or does he take the financial blessings that come from God in the first place and share his blessings with others? This situation is a true test. How many of us realize that we are influenced daily with worldly stuff that is intended to suck us in and consume us?

The most important test is whether we focus on our relationship with God. Imagine how this situation looks in the eyes of Christ. That's why we've been blessed with His word, the roadmap for our life. God gave us the Ten Commandments to live by, a new life of freedom. A life free of sin. The Ten Commandments are the bookends of our life. The Ten Commandments represent the freedom to a better life so we do not fall into bondage with things of this world.

As a Christian, we learn how to be content with what we have; that contentment sets us free. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.  - Philippians 4:12-13. 

As Christians, we must learn what it  means to be full or empty, to have plenty or to have little. The Lord desires us to pass many tests in this life so that we may learn how to become living examples, more like Jesus. We need to learn to live a life of open hands, not of closed hands. God bestows blessings upon each of us in our lives. Living a life of open hands is when we graciously learn to give to others, and in return God will continue to bless us as His reward. The Lord does not favor those who hoard things for their own pleasures. But He does favor those who He has blessed with plenty and continues to share with those in need.

Blessings until next week,

Debra Pauli,

Unstoppable Believer

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Graceful Perseverance: The Three Seasons of Life (Part 1 of 3)

Posted March 11th, 2018 @ 11:03am

Have you ever given much thought to the idea that life unfolds through a series of seasons? Does it sometimes feel like a particular season of your life is going wonderfully? You feel like you are on top of the world and you are bursting with emotions that feel like life doesn't get any better?

And yet in other seasons of your life, you feel that you've hit rock bottom, and you have no clue or direction on how to climb out. It is within these troubled times you feel you have no clue or direction on how to climb out. It is within these troubled times you feel you have nowhere to turn. In this time of despair, you feel that your situation couldn't get any worse, and you find yourself overwhelmed by depression, anger, and hostility, all pointed directly at God. I've heard many people, while in troubled times say. "If there was a God, He wouldn't put me through this pain and suffering. Why would He allow this to happen to me if He really loves me?"

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposed and some for common use? - Romans 9:20-21.

I see these three seasons applicable for all of us, we who are really the same lump of clay for the master potter to do with according to His will for our lives. I believe there are three distinct seasons - the teaching season, the testing season and the promoting season. In the next three weeks, I will share my own insights, beliefs and convictions supported by biblical scripture: Jesus' word that without the Lord first in our lives, we have nothing. But with Him we have everything.

In the teaching season of our lives our experiences are unfolding according to the Lord's plan so that He may teach us a life lesson or even show us something new about our true selves that we didn't know before. "The difference between school and life is we are taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, we are given a test that teaches us a lesson." - Tom Bodett. For He is the teacher and we are the students. And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age. - Matthew 28:20.

Some examples of life lessons may be job loss, drug addictions, obesity, the death of a friend or family member, adultery, broken marriages, abusive spouses, suicide attempts, chronic depression, and other addictions. How do we react to these hardships when we find ourselves in the middle of darkness? Anger is typically the first emotion, followed closely by fear. Fear quickly spirals into negative thoughts and worries, causing us to be angry at the world, God, and those closest to us.

We are quick to anger and slow to peace. All because we've fallen into hardship. Sound familiar? Do you "react" this way? What if we remove the emotions from the equation (the onset of anger, fear and worry)? What if instead we turn our eyes to our Heavenly Father and ask Him for help in the middle of darkness? Or better yet, learn to trust Him in all of our circumstances. "When God pushes us to the edge, trust Him fully, because only two things can happen. Either He will catch us or He will teach us how to fly." - FB Quotes Gate.

I call on the Lord in my distress and He answers me. - Psalm 120:1. Have you ever thought that maybe the Lord is allowing us to go through hardships because He's attempting to teach us something? He is also teaching us that nothing or no one in this fallen world can help us more than He can. He leaves us in this place of despair until we have exhausted our own fight so that we discover we can't do it on our own, and it's time to reach out to Him, for He's the only one left who can help. His word promises to never leave our side. In 7,000 years, He has never abandoned His children. He's not going to start now.

In this season of teaching, He wants more than ever for us to acquire the same wisdom and understanding in our situation, more like He did when He was here in the flesh. When God walked the earth (in the flesh), better known as Jesus of Nazareth, He, too, faced many hardships. Christ Jesus wants more than anything for His children, who He loves beyond our imagination, to turn to Him and cry out to Him for help in our times of need. Non-believers say, "He's an unseen God, what can He do to get me out of my situation?"

He allowed you to experience the situation in the first place, because He knows where He's attempting to lead you. He not only knows your destination, but He also knows every step it takes for you to get there. Of course, He knows the outcome of your situation, even long before you go through it. A common Christian belief is "If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it!"

He knows when things can't get any worse for us, and there's nowhere left to turn when we've hit rock bottom. Eventually we will cry out to Him. At the breaking point, we learn to surrender to Him and call upon His name. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your path straight. - Proverbs 3:5-6.

I think one of the best testimonies is for those who suffer from alcohol and drug addictions. When an addict hits rock bottom, he or she is sometimes led to the doorstep of Teen Challenge. They learn to cry out to Jesus to renew them and make them whole again. Their pain and suffering, however, can get much worse before they truly surrender to the Lord for help.

Some of us know that the only one who can save us from ourselves and our sinful ways is our Lord and Savior himself. We know we are weak and He is strong. The Lord knows each of us will eventually seek Him at some point in our lifetime. And at some point, in our seasons of desperation, our knees will bow and our tongues will confess. It is them that He will lead us and we will follow our new life of freedom with Christ Jesus as our Savior.

Blessings until next week,

Debra Pauli

Unstoppable Believer

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Graceful Perseverance: Walking in the Rays of a Beautiful Son!

Posted March 4th, 2018 @ 09:03am

Welcome back, everyone! This week I felt compelled to share with you something that has deep meaning and purpose in my life.sunset in heart hands

This past week I watched an American Family Insurance commercial. The background music lyrics went like this -"Walking in the rays of a beautiful Son!" I am sure AFI’s marketing intention was very different than the way it resonated with me. I saw the ad as a blessing in disguise. When we become more attentive to the little blessings, we become better at trusting Him and what He can do through His bigger blessings.

When I heard the lyrics, "Walking in the rays of a beautiful Son," I immediately imagined what this idea would feel like. The Holy Spirit instantly became alive in me when I repeated the lyric. Why did I have this reaction? ????????. ????????, ?????????.The Holy Spirit is always waiting on the sidelines of our hearts to enter, but first we must open the door and allow Him to enter into our hearts. He will never enter without our invitation, which is why some experience the Holy Spirit, but most don't understand how this blessing works in their lives and then choose not to believe in such silliness and doubt it.

When I seek His face, when I have my eyes only set on Him and not the day-to-day stress, I know without a doubt His spirit announces His presence. As I deepen my relationship with Christ, and fall deeper in love with Him, He reveals himself through rich blessings not just once in a while, but every day. Nothing is too trivial for Him. Nothing is too overwhelming for Him. WomanWhen our minds are captivated by the wonders of His work, and we focus on Him more than our daily struggles, He will flood us with an overwhelming feeling of peace and serenity. He gives us reassurance that He's taking care of our concerns: He's got it. He would never allow us to go through any situation that hasn't passed through His hands first. Yes, even in the middle of a storm we have the ability to find peace, but only if we call upon Him.

Many of you may be curious and asking how can this be? First, the beauty of this experience is a gift that occurs by staying in the present moment with Him. Second, each of us has the ability to surround ourselves with His peace even in the middle of chaos. I do a lot of "self-talk" -- whispers in the middle of stress. The self-talk whispers are always focused on Christ Jesus only because I've learned that He is so much more powerful than I am. When we truly believe He's got our back, it is only through His power that He can move mountains for us. We are weak and fragile without Him. He is something bigger than ourselves. The Sacred Heart illustrationWhen our hearts are truly in the middle of His presence, we will reach out to Him; we will call upon Him; we will cry out to Him because it is in that moment we realize we can't do this alone.

By calling upon Him, you will "Walk in the rays of a beautiful Son." It is only then that you will truly experience Christ Jesus, the Son of God in your life. Start to practice changing your mindset. Henry Ford put it best, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you’re right!" This is a mindset change in the middle of daily stress. I like to practice this cry for help - "I trust Jesus, I trust Jesus, I trust Jesus!" In any situation, good or bad, I call upon Him for His hand in the matter.

I can give you hundreds of accounts when He's heard my cry for help, and He's immediately by my side, protecting me and bringing peace, so that He could do His work to resolve the situation for what was best for all involved. His blessings and miracles are fail-proof, but only if you trust Him, let go of your own understanding and let God.

God Bless,

Debra M. Pauli

Unstoppable Believer

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