When Faith Is Under Pressure {Stay the Course, Trust the Process}

book, journal, computerIt’s not one of  my favorite scriptures. In chapter 1, James is writing to Christians who are being persecuted and telling them how to think and live in order to win. He tells them to see difficulties as a gift.  Did you know that when we come into relationship with Christ it places a target on us? Yes, we are “saved” by believing, but then we have the same enemy that Christ had who wants to “steal, kill, and destroy” everything good the Father has planned for us. While Jesus defeated death and hell, we still have conflict over our lives today until He returns.

In His Name we pray, stand, speak, and live by His Authority that He won by His finished work on the cross. Through the trials we face in life we are changed, strengthened, and grown in maturity in our faith and love. The word Christian means anointed one. Yeah, that’s you if you believe in Him. Don’t feel anointed? Well, sometimes I don’t either. Sometimes it feels like my faith is under attack and the external and internal pressures of life are great. What then? Here’s that verse:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-3 MSG)

Tests and challenges are a gift? Yes. And not only are they a gift, we have a choice as to whether we receive the gift or not. We can stay the course or leave it prematurely. Many people leave their church as soon as their feelings get hurt. Some quit a job when they feel it’s too hard or they weren’t invited to the office party. There are others who agree with an abusive person to avoid conflict, allowing their lives to be controlled. And most of us struggle with even the basics of letting God lead us through life’s choices and decisions. We need to learn to stay the course!

While growth is not easy and sometimes quite painful, we need it! Without that personal growth, we flounder where we are and end up a complaining, weeping, mess of a person in bondage to the very things from which Christ came to set us free! So how do we choose to grow? How do we find the gift in the trouble? We stick with God!

God will make a wayStart making a daily choice to become determined in your faith that no matter what comes, no matter how difficult the circumstance, you are going to stay the course and trust the process for the Lord is going to use it for your good. There’s a gift inside every problem. There’s an opportunity for more faith in every difficulty. Growth and maturity are woven into every moment of your life and is yours for the taking…IF you stay the course and trust the process of who you are as God’s dearly loved son or daughter.

Stop accepting what is unacceptable to Him. You are here for a reason – to know His love, yes, but for more. So when the pressure comes, when conflicts arise, when your heart is troubled, take it all to God. He has a way for you through the difficulty and promises to lead you through the fiery trial you are facing. Call someone to pray with you.

Suffering brings God’s presence near in a way nothing else can. – Timothy Keller

Learn to follow Him in the small things and then you’ll be able to follow Him through the big things that want to shatter your world. Build relationship with Him now in order to remain close in trust when things go dark.

His love for you really is perfect, lacking nothing that you need, and your trust in that love makes the darkness run! Fear cannot remain when we grow in trusting God’s love.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. (1 John 4:17-18 MSG)

We typically relate God’s love to our own limited, human love. His love is deeper than the ocean and wider than the universe. Paul’s desire in Ephesians 3:18 was that we all would come to understand how wide, how high, and how deep the love of Christ really is! It’s a supernatural, all-enveloping, everything-you-need kind of love!

There are many who have been a Christian a long time who still aren’t well acquainted with God’s perfect love for them. Fear has a crippling power in their life. They are weak in the face of trouble. (That’s been me more times than I want to remember!) But “our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s” so that we are able to live an effective, powerful life with God while we are here. As long as we are depending on His love for us.

Allow Him to grow you up in your relationship with Him. Make the decision daily that you are going to grow in knowing that love and allow it to grow you. Then when your faith is under pressure, you will so trust in that love that you are able to stay the course no matter what and receive the gift hidden in the problem. Your true colors will be displayed to a fearful and hurting world and others will be inspired by the life you live.

There’s so much grace for the journey,Robin 12

Robin

From the desk by the window where the morning mist is floating gently through the pines.

Want more info about book Robin to speak? Or maybe some info on her Spiritual Life Coaching program for women? Robin does individual and group coaching and her clients are simply amazing! Email her at robinlewiswords@gmail.com and visit the here and here for more info.

Some Days You Just Feel Like Crap

hard times, difficultyIt’s one of those. Yeah, you know the kind – a day where your head aches and your heart aches and your life just aches for relief. We’re all subject to those kinds of days.

And it’s when things seem to be falling apart and there are bills and sick people and laid off spouses and more questions than answers and if we draw close to the Father, we can get a measure of relief. I think sometimes He doesn’t explain our lives just so we’ll snuggle up close enough to hear His heartbeat.

When days are lonely and the work doesn’t seem to end and we feel like that old sweater in the back of the drawer, you know, the unraveling one, that we realize we need to be knit together again.

Even Jesus told us (and we act surprised when it happens) that “in this world, we will have trouble, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Wait – I don’t want some Hallmark card gospel! I need to know what this means!

That word “trouble” in its Greek definition means to crush, press, compress, squeeze, and symbolically means grievous affliction or distress, a narrowness of room. (We know this, don’t we? Those times it feels like the room and the lungs are too small.)

“Be of good cheer” literally means to exercise courage, confidence, and boldness. (Okay, that’s better.)

But the word for “overcome” means to subdue, conquer, overcome, prevail, and get the victory! (That’s what we want!)

When it feels like you’re being crushed, pressed, squeezed and under grievous affliction, you are to exercise courage, stir up confidence, and act in boldness in a way that stands in faith. That rise in faith helps us wait until the trouble has passed. With all that Jesus endured, He subdued and conquered all the evil in the world and gained the victory! And that victory? It’s the ability to receive His peace in the middle of the storm.

Our lives are supposed to look like His and while He had tough days, we will have tough days. Embrace it all and give thanks. As we embrace our life in Him, we come to know how He embraces us and sees us through every. single. thing.

But…I skipped over the first half of the verse:

These things I have spoken to you that in Me, you might have peace. -John 16:33a

peaceJesus’ peace, in contrast with strife, is a state of untroubled and undisturbed well-being found IN HIM and never found in the world. The same word is used in Ephesians 6:13 describing “the shoes of the Gospel of peace”. It’s protective armor!

This kind of peace doesn’t mean our emotions won’t be troubled and is not some state of unfeeling. It means there will be no trouble that can ever remove the peace He gives. The reality of the bad days is they are real and they will come, but as we focus on Him in the middle of the crappy days, the hard things, we will know that He has promised to help us through.

Ann Voskamp writes, “Let Him kneel & wash your wounded places… keep company with Jesus. Stop & feel the humming Peace of something sacred in our veins, enlarging our lungs. Even in our darkest places — look for it, feel along for it — there is the light of Christ’s graces.”

Jesus never stops praying for us standing right next to the throne of God, and His prayers are always heard. I have an affirmation in my phone that sounds every evening that reads, Being mindful of Jesus blood and His prayers for me keeps me calm and grateful. In this very moment, here, now, what do I need? Not a thing. So take a deep breath of His peace knowing that His plan for your life is active and good and nothing can separate you from His love.

Loads of grace,

Robin

From the desk by the window where the sun is behind the trees and the local deer have come to find their supper and mine is baking in the oven.

(c) Robin L. Lewis, Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, July 13, 20162016-05-25 13.20.43

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Struggles Prepare You For Success {don’t skip God’s preparation season}

This post was published in the Morning News on Sunday, May 22, 2016. I pray this is a blessing for you where you are – in your waiting, in your struggle, in your own unique period of preparation!

struggle, promotion, timing, Joseph calling, OsThroughout life, difficult times happen to everyone, but the person intent on personal growth finds a way to maximize the experience and gain from the lessons learned; whether personally or professionally, today’s struggle can prepare you for tomorrow’s promotion and success.

In the bible, Joseph walked a very difficult road for much of his life. It seemed that his circumstances would never improve. As a young man, he was given a dream from God that he would one day rule over others. But the reality was Joseph would be sold into slavery by his own brothers, purchased by an Egyptian as a house servant, and accused of sexual misconduct by his boss’ wife! He was thrown into prison for many years yet he continued to be faithful and serve those around him. Prison was where he began to be promoted in positions over sections of prisoners. The Lord continued to give Joseph favor even though his circumstances had not changed. What was he to do?

Never forgetting the dream he’d had, Joseph kept trusting God and became willing to be content where he was. He didn’t know how God would bring his dream to fulfillment, but God was using the long years of waiting to prepare him. Joseph would come to be positioned to rule the great nation of Egypt and there by save millions of people from starvation, including his own family. When they came face to face, Joseph helped his family see the bigger picture of what God had been doing in his life.

“I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.  But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives and to preserve many others. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:4-8)

God desires to be just as involved in our lives today as He was in the life of Joseph. He uses our periods of waiting, struggle, and dryness to prepare us for something bigger. Whether your calling is to business, community, or something individual, know that not everyone walks through a Joseph calling, but many do; and the experiences are usually related to the magnitude of the call on your life.

Many who are destined for greater impact lose much along the journey, so if God has purposed you for greater things, expect to walk through times that don’t make sense, where God seems silent. He has not forgotten you and will bring you to a place of success and restoration according to His timing and purpose for your life.

My Spiritual Life Coaching Clients who have walked through difficulties learn that our part is to submit to God, learn to trust Him, and continue to seek His direction. Our lives need God’s refining work for our strength and integrity to be developed.

While Joseph was “Called” as a young man, he wasn’t “Commissioned” into his destiny until many years later. Just as Joseph allowed God to refine and prepare him, so can you. Even in prison Joseph was being made ready and matured in his gifts and talents. While it may appear small, those very experiences would catapult him forward to rule over the nation and save many lives.

Maybe you, too, feel called to something great, destined to also to “save many lives” in some way. Don’t shortcut the season of preparation and continue to forgive those who “sell you out”. Be determined to serve faithfully where you are and seek God for all He wants to do in and through you. You may very well be a modern-day Joseph! The all-important middle years of “Preparation” that requires waiting and trusting will serve to have you ready for success.

Keep growing, 

Robin

From the desk by the window where the sun is rising on a cool Monday morning.

women sitting togetherRobin L. Lewis is a certified life coach, speaker, and writer who specializes in encouragement and confidence. For more information, email Robin at robinlewiswords@gmail.com and get free updates at www.sozolifeleaders.com/blog.

when winds blow hard & all of life is tossed {keeping your balance}

There. are. days. There are days when you’ve been hit so hard and so long, you feel like giving up. Then there are days when a sudden crisis arrives at your front door uninvited and you must face it and do your best. There are things to remember when the winds blow hard and your life feels tossed about.

woman reading by window

At the core of destructive forces we find the true nature of that force – oppressive. Don’t be misled by that. Don’t put your faith in that. Don’t believe you’re losing and don’t buy into failure’s devilish taunt “where is your God now?”

Refuse to be misled — refuse to believe that anything can separate you from His love.  He is right there with you and has a  harvest of good things for you, ordained and certain even if you cannot see it right now. ~Shirley Weaver, A Clear Trumpet

When you’re worn down gradually or suddenly hit hard, PRAY. Pray to not be misled by what is in your face. Pray to not compromise or make a deal with what wants to throw you down. See it as a destructive force out to oppress you, push you, and plant its flag on top of your mountain! Refuse to put your faith in “it”, and keep believing you will come out on top. Choose your thoughts with deliberate intention – thoughts of perseverance, of seeking God for strength, of knowing He is there for you. See Him fighting for you!

There are also things to SAY right out loud! Our words have creative power, for better or for worse. Take hold of “faith thoughts” like these and speak them out –

My God is with me! Who can stand against Him? While I go through this time, He is fighting for me and will bring me through!

Thank you, Father, for even this experience, for I know that if you’ve allowed it to come to my door, YOU will be strong enough in me to remain standing and not give up.

I stand in the authority of Jesus and bind down these destructive forces seeking to oppress me. Lord, help me remain IN You. My faith is growing and getting stronger! I will not fear!

I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ! My life is hidden in Him and He will weave His strength in with mine.

Don’t be surprised when winds blow hard and your life feels tossed about like a little boat on a big sea. Since you live on earth, this is going to happen. Keep your balance by choosing your thoughts well and speaking truth. Toss out of your mental boat all that would sink it, and welcome in and hang onto what keeps your head above water and your heart strong. And call a friend to pray for you, someone who will step into your little boat with encouragement. He promises to see you through because you belong to the One who created you, named you, and will not let you be consumed in the storm.

Isaiah 43 2, pass through waters

Our earthly perspective is so very short concerning the lives we live. We need God’s help, vision, and strength, and we need to make a decision, sometimes moment by moment, that even when we can’t see, especially when we don’t understand, that we will still stand in faith. You have a responsibility to yourself so make your decision now!

So get up, dress up, and buckle up because we’re all in this life together, and let’s be determined to live it in love, gentleness, strength, and faith! The way you keep your balance today sets the foundation for many tomorrows.

So much grace,

Robin

From the desk by the window where I feel my faith like a blanket around me and I’m cuddled up with my Father.

(c) Robin L. Lewis, Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, Dec 2, 2015

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Has Your Voice Been Stolen?

tape over mouthThere were many years where I was  able to speak, but due to intermittent paralyzing fear, I refrained from speaking, from sharing how I felt, from objecting to what was offensive, or abusive.  Not speaking in this way feels like you have tape over your mouth, like you’ve been taken against your will, or like you are standing in a doorway, yet unable to enter the room.  The words ring around inside you, echoing off your heart and lungs until you want to scream, but you don’t dare.  It might upset somebody and they might lash out at you.

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. (Proverbs 18:21)

I saw a counselor for a while who listened well, and said something that helped quite a bit.  “So when did you realize your voice had been stolen?”  I didn’t until she asked the question.  Sometimes it’s the questions we need instead of the answers to get us thinking.

God has been restoring my voice – my ability to communicate without fear – over the past several years.  It’s working.  I’m seeing progress as I push forward in sharing, offering my opinion, or standing firm in personal boundaries when needed.  I don’t always get it right, but I’m choosing to speak.  I am better at knowing when not to speak, too, and realizing more of my own personal value in the choosing.

Whether the binding up of words is physical or emotional, the result seems to be the same.  It feels like you are stuck inside a life you didn’t ask for, behind bars that hold you back, gagged with hands tied…while you can only listen to others or obey what they want.  Trapped.

I can sometimes find myself there again where I feel ambushed by the presence and words of another who seems purposed to enter and take over.  My first step is to forgive, and then at my next encounter to guard my boundaries, respond or refrain from responding…according to the need of the moment.

If another has stepped on you with their words until you felt like you were one with the sidewalk, it can be quite difficult to stand without being pushed around.  You may want to say, “No!  Stop!” or “That’s not OK with me!” and yet the words won’t come out. You find yourself doing what you always did – trying to keep peace.

And here’s the thing: If we bring this silent voice to God to heal, He adds to us more of our value, significance, and authenticity. We learn to get the definition of who we are from Him. In that place of peace and freedom, little by little, we will find ourselves standing and speaking!  {Progress is progress, no matter how small.}

And when there is no one to encourage your voice, your words, speak them out loud anyway.  Write them down.  God who never slumbers or sleeps says your words are significant, creative, and needed.

“The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me; his words are upon my tongue. (2 Samuel 23:2)

When words are flowing, handle them carefully, tasting them before serving them up.  And when there are no words, listen to God’s voice speaking into your spirit, giving you the discernment you need in the moment.  For whether you speak or not, you are never alone.  And He will restore your voice.  Your words are needed now.

Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.” (Daniel 10:19)

Much love, peace, and strength ~

Robin

From the desk by the window where the words are spilling through my fingers and onto the screen just for you. May you be strengthened by them! Godspeed, friend!

(c) Robin L. Lewis, October 2015

(Edited and reposted from October 29, 2013)

For information on booking Robin to speak to your group or on Spiritual Life Coaching, you can call or email her here: robinlewiswords@gmail.com – (843) 319-5390. 

What is just beyond what you can see? {the problem with our eyes}

thoughts, focus, leafI’m convinced that our eyes are linked directly to our belief system. But before I get ahead of myself, our belief system is made up of all the information, teaching, and experiences we’ve had so far and all that is filed away inside the file cabinet of our mind. The beliefs that link to our heart and emotions are the strongest.

So when we know God has called us to do something and circumstances look impossible, or days into the journey the attacks come with arrows of discouragement or fear, and all we can see says “Turn back as fast as you can!” – that’s a problem. For if we only depend on what we can see with our eyes, then our faith will be very short-sighted!

They say the place of miracles is when we have nothing left that we can see and we have to depend on God. He wants us to know Him this way – to know that nothing is impossible for Him, that nothing in our earthly life causes Him to worry, and nothing makes Him sweat.

If we leave God out of our equation, then we only have us and our problem, but when we include Him, anything is possible.

Me + my problem = Me and my problem

Me + my problem + God’s solution yet unseen = Anything is Possible!

When Jesus came walking on the water and the disciples saw Him and were afraid, He assured them by saying “Hey guys! It’s Me, Jesus!” Peter was bold enough to say, “Then call me to come out to you on the water!” Jesus replied, “Come!” As soon as Peter became  more aware of the stormy waves about his feet than he was about the miracle of Jesus, he started to sink, and so will we. Jesus was just beyond what Peter could see physically and reaching out, lifted him up out of what wanted to drown him.

When it’s hardest, let’s practice keeping our eyes fixed on the only One who is above every earthly circumstance, the miracle-working God who created us and all we see, and may we and keep going. Jesus will be there to take hold of us when the seas of life are roughest and lift us up above them.

The place of miracles! Isn’t that the best place to be? It grows us and grows our faith and we get opportunity to “walk on the water” that wants to drown our dreams. Thankful we have a Father God who is faithful, forgiving, and full of grace!

Much love,

Robin

From the desk by the window on a dew covered morning where the world is quiet.Robin 9

For information on growing spiritually, please contact me at
robinlewiswords@gmail.com. I am a professional speaker, writer, and certified spiritual life coach ready to help. Remember you are precious to God. Let Him grow your faith for He is faithful to watch over you!

(c) Robin L. Lewis, Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, Sept. 3, 2015

You Are Being Prepared for Greater Things

In the bible, Joseph had to walk a struggle, promotion, timing, Joseph calling, Osvery difficult road through much of his life. It seemed that his circumstances would never improve. Over the first twenty years, he was thrown into a well then sold into slavery by his brothers. They told their father he was dead so no one would ever go looking for him. Bought by a man in another country, he was accused of sexual misconduct by his boss’ wife, and thrown into prison to remain there for years where he continued to be faithful and serve those around him. Through it all he kept trusting God and became willing to be content where he was. He didn’t know how God was using these long years of waiting in his life to prepare him for greater things, for Joseph would come to be positioned to rule the nation of Egypt and save millions of people from starvation, including his family, all based on dreams and vision from God. His response to his brothers?

“I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.  But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.  This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:4-8)

God is just as involved in our lives today as He was in the life of Joseph. He uses our periods of waiting, struggle, and dryness to prepare us for something bigger. Not everyone walks through a Joseph calling, but many do, and the experience is usually related to the magnitude of the call on your life. Many lose everything at least once, but if God has purposed you for greater things, expect to walk through seasons that don’t make sense where God may be silent for periods of time. He has not forgotten you, continues to be active in your spirit, and will reveal you to a waiting world according to His timing and purpose. Your part is to submit to Him and continue to seek His face for your life.

The rest of us need what you bring! To let your life become a blessing to you and the rest of us, tell God that you are willing to be His child in all circumstances, and watch Him do miracles in your life to prepare you to make an impact on your world. And always, always give thanks, no matter what things look like. You are greatly loved.

Are you needing some help in the journey of your life? We all need to know our life has great meaning. Your life can become more fulfilling than you ever thought possible. Call me about “encouragement life coaching” or speaking to your group at 843-319-5390 or robinlewiswords@gmail.com. 

There’s loads of grace for the journey.

Robin

From the desk by the window where I’m waiting and watching a very blue sky and trusting what I cannot see.

(c) Robin L. Lewis, Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC

Robin bible*My calendar is open to book speaking engagements now for the rest of 2015. Talks, workshops, and conferences are available on a variety of topics! Contact me today using the email address below. A free consultation meeting is available.

Robin Lewis, professional speaker, writer, and certified life coach
robinlewiswords@gmail.com – www.sozolifeleaders.com