28
May

Let God Unearth the Diamond in You!

Let’s admit it girls, we like bright and shiny things! Especially little diamond-embedded trinkets because they make us smile –a lot! And I don’t think we are alone in how we feel about them. I believe God is a fan of jewels too!

I mean if you read through the Bible, you will sense God’s take on bright and shiny things:

  1. David speaking of the building of the Lord’s temple: “Now with all my ability I have provided for the house of my God the gold for the things of gold, and the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, onyx stones and inlaid stones, stones of antimony and stones of various colors, and all kinds of precious stones and alabaster in abundance.” 1 Chron. 29:2 NIV
  2. John speaking of the appearance of Jesus in Heaven: And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Rev. 4:3 NIV
  3. John speaking of the appearance of God’ kingdom: The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. Rev. 21:19-20 NIV

See what I mean! For God, however, these precious stones resemble something to be admired, not in the worldly ‘I got bling’ kind of way, but as reflections of transparency, flawlessness, and purity.

And for the children of God, those who are Christ followers, He sees us as just that – flawless and pure. Yet long before we ever feel like we are someone to be admired, if we ever do, we feel more like a diamond in the rough. But God sees us differently and has already spotted the thing within us that He is working to bring out –a pure, flawless, shimmering diamond.

Zechariah gives this picture of God’s people:

The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. Zech. 9:16 NIV

To think, one day we will be ‘like jewels in a crown.’ That’s pretty awesome!

But how are diamonds made? Contrary to your old science book, diamonds do NOT come from the breakdown of coal. Diamonds form in the deepest depths of the earth’s mantle. You see, the earth is divided into three layers, and the mantle is the middle layer. It is considered more than two thousand miles thick! It makes up over 80% of the earth’s volume. Think on that for a moment, and compare it to the depths of our souls. How far down do we bury our emotions? Some days, it feels about two thousand miles deep, doesn’t it?

But back to diamond development. In simplest terms, diamonds form inside this layering under high pressure and even higher temperatures. Sounds uncomfortable right? In comparison, God uses this same method to bring those things He has set inside of us to the surface. He uses terminology like trials (pressure) and refinement (high temperature) when speaking of how He transforms us.

Paul speaks about the process like this:

2 Corinthians 4_8-9

Yep, the process isn’t easy, but its results are magnificent!

I don’t think I have ever run into a Christian whose life has been transformed that hasn’t undergone the process a few times. And once you have been transformed a time or two, you understand that on this side of life it will continue. Sometimes our trials will be short and our refinement light, and other times we will feel like we are never going to see the end of the process. But God’s timing in these things are perfect. Our job is to believe in Him, and what He is doing, even when it doesn’t make sense to us.

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed in a way that awakens more faith]. As it is written and forever remains written, “The just and upright shall live by faith.” Rom. 1:17 AMP

For today, don’t look in the mirror and see only the surface of your body looking back at you, but go to your jewelry box and pick out your best piece of jewelry. As you gaze upon it, know that what God is doing on the inside of you will make your presence among others glisten. And in that day when we stand before Him, we will sparkle like a perfect diamond!

So tell me, what is your favorite piece of jewelry, and why?


Amplified Bible (AMP). Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

16
May

4 Levels of Perseverance – Succeeding in Each

Wow! My heart is so full! There is so much I want to tell you, but my thoughts are coming so fast that I have to take a deep breath and really concentrate to untangle them!

Within the next month, I hope to tell you all that God has done recently (yep, I’m leaving that teaser right there!).

But today, let’s talk about perseverance. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines perseverance this way: a “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” Notice that little word ‘despite’ makes all the difference in the world when one is trying to understand the meaning of perseverance.

When we push through difficulties in our life to achieve our goals, we are preserving. Some days we are just trying to get through the daily routine of the house –preparing meals, getting the kids off to school, or surviving an eight-hour work day. Other times we are dealing with some really heavy stuff –guilt, depression, rejection, loss.

I would love to tell you there is an easier way through this mental stress, but unfortunately I can’t. However, I can encourage you that if you are walking with Jesus, He has your back!

For lessons in working through difficulties, we can turn to the apostle Paul who knew a few things about having a bad day.

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 2 Cor. 11:23-28 NIV

Most days, Paul’s tribulations make mine look like child’s play. But there are those who are certainly suffering, certainly preserving despite some really troubling situations. So what advice does Paul give?

And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Rom. 5:3-4 AMP

I believe that Paul reveals the different levels of perseverance in this verse. So let’s take a few minutes to really break it down.

  1. Surface issue. Whatever difficulty you are facing, the difficulty itself is a smoke screen that is attempting to keep you in a place where you are ineffective in your walk with God. Once we can take a step back (and I’m not saying that is easy to do), we start to fully appreciate that there are boundaries. What I mean by that is, when we can remove ourselves emotionally from the situation and start to see the options we have (and there are always options), something arises in our spirit that says: “I can make it.”
  2. Patient endurance. As our mind starts to formulate an end to our situation, our spirit is strengthen and we find a resolve we didn’t know we had. Instead of living in a constant state of anxiety, we become steadfast, steady, and unwavering. And all the while, we are patient, able to tolerate all that is happening to or around us.
  3. Proven character. No other time do we learn what it means to fully trust God as when we are in situations that cause us to suffer one way or another. And as we are fighting our way through, our spiritual maturity grows. No one becomes a spiritual giant without having faced a few mountains.
  4. Hope. As we reach this level of perseverance, something in our soul explodes. We call it hope! Once we grab a hold of hope, there is no turning back. At that stage, we fully expect and believe that the situation is going to shift. And as we put one foot in front of the other, day after day our hope grows bigger.

No, no real difficulty goes away over night. But as we persevere through the situation, we change. And as we change, we become stronger.

As I went through the chaos that interrupted my life between 2008-2013, there were days I certainly felt defeated. There were days I bawled my eyes out. But day after day, I learned to persevere. When I could finally see the situation for what it was -a smoke screen meant to throw me off course- I realized there were options. I could either let it defeat me or I could turn the tables and become all that God wanted me to be. When that clicked, I was then able to patiently endure all the ups and downs that came. As I grew up spiritually, my faith rose to new heights. And as hope took a hold of my heart, I knew there was no turning back.

Since then, there have been other challenges, but I now face them with great confidence because Jesus is my hope!

I keep my eyes always on the LordWith him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Ps. 16:8 NIV

Is there a challenge in front of you today? Are you preserving? If not, turn to the One who can show you how!


Amplified Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.