by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2015
Note: Writing this devotion for you today has been an act of obedience and frankly as I have labored on it, the adversary has been whispering to me that it will be of no worth to anyone. As I re-read before posting, I cannot say I am pleased with how it is written. From a writing standpoint, I think there have been times the Lord has enabled me to do better. However, for whatever reason this is for someone. He is asking me to trust Him and publish it, so it is there for you. Perhaps it is for today, perhaps for tomorrow. He knows…..At the same, I am praying for each one of you who is called to read it, that by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, it may speak to your heart the encouragement you need to keep going, breathing Him in and breathing Him out in difficult circumstances—even choosing to rejoice in Him along the difficult way. Know and do not doubt: He is using you. Let Him. He is using you even and sometimes especially where you don’t necessarily want to be. He won’t stop unless you choose not to cooperate. We join our sufferings to Jesus and He makes them productive. Through them He is glorified as through us He reveals Himself to others through them. Simultaneously His kingdom-building, Great Commission projects are being accomplished through them. Though we cannot always see, He always is using all things by His Spirit to spread His incomprehensible, infinite, merciful, awe-filling love.
God, touch each person who reads this with an increased spark of Your joy (and hope) as only You can bestow it! ~ Elizabeth
There is an oft quoted verse which contains huge encouragement for us:
13 I can do all things through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:13 NIV)
But perhaps the encouragement is even greater than what we initially may have thought. There are clues when we read and ponder the verses which precede it. (Holy Spirit, please give us Your insight!)
11…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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 well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:11b-13 NIV)
Thus it appears our initial verse does not mean we will be able to do whatever we set out to do our way because He will give the strength for it, but that by His strength we will be able to make it through all things—both that which is easy and comfortable and that which is hard and difficult.
Nowhere does Jesus promise that in and through Him in this life in this world all difficulties will be eliminated. In fact, there are promises that there will be difficulties. This already is implied in the Scripture with which we began where St. Paul states he has known what it is to be in need as well as what it is to have plenty. This means having times of need is normal.
Jesus Himself makes this clear in a multiplicity of places in His teachings, not the least of which is in His well-known treatise teaching us not to worry in the Sermon on the Mount:
34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34)
What kind of promise is this?! It is an aspect of His truth. It helps us understand and come to terms with how this life will be.
Sometimes realizing that knowing Jesus does not rescue us from all suffering, harm and difficulty in this life can be discouraging. However, in actuality it frees us to better understand our Lord’s way and come to rest in it. (He invites us to be at rest in Him in all things!) We come face to face with the initial disappointment that though He is fully capable of all things miraculous, He will not cause this world to become heaven for us.
However, knowing Him does cause us to have the certain promise of heaven later along with access to His Spirit now. This magnificent Spirit works through us in all circumstances from now until we cross into our Lord’s eternal presence to help usher in the kingdom of heaven (God) in this world, little by little now (when we let Him). This is the divine purpose to which each of us is called!
Jesus is our foremost example of how there will be difficulties in this life, it is normal to encounter these and our Lord will work great eternal things through it all. Jesus did not live a heavenly-throne-room existence during the 33 years or so when He walked the earth. There were dusty roads, pressing crowds and always more work which as He accomplished it did not always lead to more who understood Him. He Himself states He had nowhere to lay His head. There was no honor from contemporary human leaders (which He was obviously due) and no throne room from which He ruled. In fact, instead there was betrayal from His inner circle. There was no miraculous stay from murderous execution of His human body, for He was destined by Father God to die for love of us. There was no rescue from the suffering of the cross, which so obviously was the work of heaven’s adversary because through this heinous work of evil, the Lord God was bringing our ultimate good—the restoration of the Way for us to be with Him in the manner He always has wanted from here through eternity.
This is no way means we celebrate evil or look forward to the presence of evil in our lives during our stay in this world. This in no way means our Lord wants us to have to endure evil or suffer. However, for now we are in this world and it will include both of these. Our comfort is knowing He will be with us through it, bring ultimate good in some way out of it and when our time here is done, He waits in heaven to wipe away every tear and restore us fully from what we have endured.
Through hardships now, we need to set aside the temptation which may come to sometimes to think the Lord might love us less because we seem to have so many difficulties (even though logically we know that is impossible). Certainly the enemy does come against us, but our God is greater (GREATEST) and we do not face anything which Jesus did not face Himself.
19 “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also….” (John 15:19-20a NIV)
Jesus also said,
28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. (Matt. 10:28-29 NIV)
This is why it is in Him we place our hope!
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…23…we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved….28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters….31What, then, shall we say in response to these thing? 32 He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?…34…Christ Jesus who dies—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:18a,23b-24a,28-29a,31-32a,34b-35a,37-39 NIV)
We know and understand it is by His strength all things are possible, there will be difficulty, and He can be trusted through it. For now we are certainly in this world even though by our faith in Him we are no longer of it. So long as we are here, He desires to work His purposes for others and us through us by His Spirit. Yet we know here is not our ultimate destiny.
Additionally there is yet another gift in the sometimes arduous journey. Through our difficulties, He is giving us the gift of conforming us more and more into His blessed image.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything….12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4,12 NIV)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:1-8 NIV)
Our hope therefore is not that this life becomes heaven (which it will never be), but that when we have persevered, leaning our whole self on Him, and seeking to follow (obey) Him as an expression of our love for Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, He will use us for His glorious, all-good purposes now and we will inherit the eternal life with Him for which He created us. Thus, in spite of our present circumstances, knowing the gift of the great destiny in, with and through Him to which each of us are called, we do indeed choose to rejoice!
4 Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:4-9 NIV)
He is our hope, now and forever. Nothing can steal our destiny in Him. As it was for Jesus, what the enemy has meant for evil (and there will be evil so long as we are living in this world), our Lord will, will, will, use for eventual eternal good. His Word will not return void, but will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it! (based on Isa. 55:11). Thus the hope from God’s promise through St. Paul in Philippians 4:13 may be greater than what we may have been tempted to attribute to it.
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:2-3 NIV)
Be encouraged. Lean into Him even more. Persevere. Endure. Rejoice. Give thanks. Thrive in, by and for Jesus because….
12…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:12b-13 NIV)
NUGGETS OF GOD’s WISDOMGod’s Wisdom is more precious than gold. This blog by Elizabeth Fulgaro helps readers discover God’s way versus the world’s one “nugget” at a time. http://www.ascendinworship.wordpress.com www.eaglesnestfoundation.org
Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist. She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way.
For books, worship albums, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org Music can be purchased and audio clips heard at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro and on itunes.
Elizabeth is the Founder of Eagles Nest Foundation which provides spiritual support & encouragement to military and military families as well as those in physical and emotional battles (such as cancer, long-term illness) as well as those grieving a loss. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org