So you are saying lighten up Lord, “My cross is too heavy!”

“My cross is too heavy”

Jesus said:

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny

himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me

(Matthew 16:24)

The following devotion speaks to a very important point in the life of every Christian. It seems we all eventually come to the place in our life where we feel the load that we bear is too heavy!

Not so, because the promise of God’s Word is:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (The Message)

13No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

It certainly would seem that from God’s perspective, even though the Bible makes it clear that as any loving father is towards his children, God also desires that we prosper and be in health; but only as our soul prospers. This is what the Bible says is God’s desire for us (see 3 John 1:2), but only as we are maturing and growing in faith!

Also we can learn from scripture that it is said that even our Lord had to learn obedience through the things which he suffered (see Hebrews 5:8)… and so how is it that we figure it will be any different with us?

No, you see God’s priority is not to make us comfortable in this life; but rather it is to prepare us for eternity, and for our future ministry, and assignment in the earth, and fulfill our destiny.

So let us understand that these trials and tribulations, which we try so hard to avoid, are God’s training ground to prepare us for what lies ahead. They are not to defeat us, but rather they are to teach us how to overcome the obstacles that the enemy will place in front of us.

This pattern is seen all throughout the Bible.

  • Did not God tell Abraham to leave the comfort and security of his home and family, and go to a place he knew not; and when he finally arrived in the Promised Land, he found he had to live in tents, as a stranger; and that he was right in the middle of a famine.
  • What about Joseph? After receiving his prophetic dream, and God’s promise for his future, he spends the next 13 years of his life in the toilet; first almost being killed by his brothers; then he is sold as a slave; then he is framed for something he didn’t do; and finally he is thrown into prison!

    Joseph was 17 when this ordeal began, and it wasn’t until age 30 that he understood why. Joseph had no idea that God was fulfilling his dream and his destiny, and that all of this was in training for him to become the Prime Minister of Egypt, and thereby save his family from the coming famine. (read Psalms 105:16-19).

  • What about the Children of Israel having to wander in the desert for forty years? Listen to what God said the reason was: “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
  • Then we read the Hall of Fame chapter in the Bible, in Hebrews 11; where each one of these individuals were tested severely, and it was not because God didn’t care about them, but it was because He had prepared something better. But that something better comes only after having our faith muscles tested, in preparation for the assignment which God has foreordained for each of our lives.
  • Look to Jesus in the New Testament, did He not send his disciples into the storm; and then came walking out to them on the water? This was also a test.

It was President John F. Kennedy, who brought this to our attention, during the Cuban missile crisis (in 1960), about how in the Chinese language the word for crisis (“Wei Ji 危机“) is made up of two characters “Wei and “Ji , where “Wei means “danger,” and “Ji , means “opportunity.”

Now if we could only learn to see our trials and tribulations, which we are facing, in this same way; as opportunities for us to grow, in order that we might exercise our faith muscles, and learn to overcome our obstacles.

Let us also remember that the Bible says (in Hebrews 11:6) that without faith it is impossible to please God!

These are the mountains that the Bible says we can speak to, which are those material, financial, emotional, or physical obstacles that Satan places in our path, just like he did with Job.

The Bible teaches us that we can speak to these mountains, as Jesus has instructed us to do, and cast them out of our way!

Let us think about these things, in whatever it is that we are facing today; and let us begin today to see our trials and tribulations also as opportunities, and as the Bible says: “Let us glory in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) Selah


Skip Barland

—–Original Message—–
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 1:30 AM
Subject: My Utmost For His Highest : “What You Will Get”

April 28, 2010

I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.Jeremiah 45:5

This is the firm and immovable secret of the Lord to those who trust Him— “I will give your life to you . . . .” What more does a man want than his life?

It is the essential thing. “. . . your life . . . as a prize . . .” means that wherever you may go, even if it is into hell, you will come out with your life and nothing can harm it.

So many of us are caught up in exhibiting things for others to see, not showing off property and possessions, but our blessings. All these things that we so proudly show have to go. But there is something greater that can never go—the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

Are you prepared to let God take you into total oneness with Himself, paying no more attention to what you call the great things of life?

Are you prepared to surrender totally and let go?

The true test of abandonment or surrender is in refusing to say, “Well, what about this?”

Beware of your own ideas and speculations. The moment you allow yourself to think, “What about this?” you show that you have not surrendered and that you do not really trust God. But once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do.

Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions.

If you totally abandon yourself to God, He immediately says to you, “I will give your life to you as a prize . . . .”

The reason people are tired of life is that God has not given them anything— they have not been given their life “as a prize.”

The way to get out of that condition is to abandon yourself to God. And once you do get to the point of total surrender to Him, you will be the most surprised and delighted person on earth.

God will have you absolutely, without any limitations, and He will have given you your life. If you are not there, it is either because of disobedience in your life or your refusal to be simple enough

So how are you with this thing called “Change?”

Change Happens!!!

More and more we find ourselves living in a world where everything around us is changing, and most often, these days anyway, these changes are not for the good.

One obvious case in point, the man currently sitting in the White House got elected using “CHANGE” as his campaign motto and mantra; and look how that is working out so far.

I don’t know about you, but I typically don’t always do so well with change, myself; and I would even go so far as to say I bet that most of you are the very same way.

I think it is human nature to be this way, and to resist change, at least it is most often among the older generation, say forty and above.

Howbeit, it wasn’t always that way for most people; and that was the point I believe Jesus was making about the children, whom His disciples had been trying to keep away from the Master.

Jesus merely told them not to do that; and He went on to say that unless we become as they are, then we can’t even experience the Kingdom of Heaven!

What I think Jesus was saying is that for God to use us, whomever we are, we must first of all be teachable, and open to change, not afraid do fail.

Most kids are like that naturally, and are sponges, always looking for new experiences, and always wanting to do and learn new things.

Most of us were also that way, ourselves, once upon a time… and if we are going to be used of God, as adults, then we had better learn to be that way again!

I think the older we get the more we tend to like only the status quo, as long as our emotional and physical needs are being met, and we are comfortable. But I’m discovering, having read the Bible, that our being comfortable is just not a priority on God’s list; but our being conformed into the image of His Son, our elder brother, Jesus Christ is.

I am finding that this process of our always being transformed and changed, into the image of our Lord, cannot happen unless we get use to change, and begin to accept it.

The Bible teaches us about old and new wineskins to make this point, and John Paul Jackson, in his e-letter (below) makes that same point.

There is a certain fluidness that is necessary if we are going to be used of the Holy Spirit, that requires our being use to change, on a moment’s notice; that is if we are to go with the flow of the Holy Spirit, and what He is doing in any one time or place; and the truth is, He is always doing a new thing; as we can readily see in the Bible.

John 3:8 (The Message)

7-8″So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak.

You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next.

That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Even though the Bible says clearly that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever; nevertheless, one of the great paradoxes we find in the Bible is that, though He changes not, He is also a God of change, in that He never does the same thing twice, in the same way!

We can see this all throughout the Bible, that God always was doing something new; as evident in the fact that He never does a miracle twice, in the same way.

We see that in Jesus’ ministry, and also we see it all throughout the Tanakh (Jewish Old Testament).

Sometimes I think change is necessary because God is trying to introduce Himself to a new culture, or a younger generation; and in those situations it is of paramount importance that we adapt, and are pliable to whatever changes are required, so as not to be a hindrance to the move of the Spirit.

We are very wrong if we think God uses our comfort level and our life experiences as His standard for everyone else, as a plum line or reference marker… because He doesn’t!

In fact that has never been the case in any generation.

Every fisherman knows well that if he is going to catch fish, he must always adapt his bait to the taste of the fish, and not his own.

Consequently in history, because of most people’s resistance to CHANGE, in every revival in history, instead of the next move of God being able to build upon the last, and the last move being the ceiling for the next; rather what typically happens is, the ones who are most resisting the next move of God are the participants of the last move.

This is what normally happens; you have people saying things like, “This can’t be God, because it is so different from what I’m used to and what I experienced!”

It is a huge mistake for us to think this way; and really when you think about it, for us to even think that any move of God, before we can accept it, it must pass muster with us, and have our approval first… I mean how myopic and small minded is that?

For us to think that God only likes the sort of music and things that we have grown accustomed to, things that agree with our particular culture, our taste, and our life experience, is to try and keep God in a very small box; which He will not allow anyone to do.

If the Bible has anyone message that we need to learn from, it is that if we are to be used of the Lord, and are to be in the flow of the Holy Spirit is doing in the world, at any one time, or in any location, are our being fluid and malleable, and accustom to change, is an absolute necessity!

Let’s take Caleb as our example:

  • Caleb’s courage was first displayed after his return from his spy mission into the Promised Land. He was willing to take a stand with God when the crowd was more than willing to oppose God’s will. As we recall, ten of the spies returned with “bad news”. They stated that taking the land was beyond their ability (Numbers 13:31).
  • Joshua and Caleb reported just the opposite. In fact Caleb, “quieted the people before Moses”, and said, “Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30).
  • He also said, “If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us” (Numbers 14:8).
  • Caleb was simply trying to motivate the people to go up and possess the land which God had promised (Genesis 17:8). They in turn desired to kill him (Numbers 14:10).
  • Think about it! These people would rather have killed Caleb than listen to his words of exhortation.
  • As the Bible says of Caleb: “So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.” Joshua 14:14

As Christians grow older, we should grow in faith. The classic example of persevering faith is that of the eighty-five year-old Caleb ben-Jephunneh.

God himself certified Caleb to be a man of great faith, one who obeyed God fully. He is an inspiration to all true believers—not just older people, but everyone who is maturing in Christ.

The only caveat I would add is that God never contradicts Himself, and that whatever God does always lines up with His Word; but the sort of things we have been talking about here are more in line with the subjective preferences and tastes of the individual; which has to do more with the culture they are from, than it does anything else.

We need to understand that God is always adapting to new cultures and new generations of kids; just as He once did with us, and our parents most likely resisted us as well, in the same way; and then for us to think it ends with us… well, I don’t think I have to tell you how foolish that is.

Read on and see what John Paul Jackson has to say on this subject.


Skip Barland

From: Streams Ministries []
Sent: Sunday, April 25, 2010 7:01 PM
Subject: What has God put on your heart to do? by John Paul Jackson

What has God put on your heart to do? April 2010
by John Paul Jackson

Is there something you’ve been considering doing lately? Do you have a thought rolling around in your head that maybe you should be paying more attention to? What has God put on your heart to do?

You are probably familiar with Jesus’ metaphor of new wine and new wineskins (Matthew 9:17). The general explanation is that when God is doing something new, we need to be open to it. Many of us rightly equate this metaphor to moves of God that seem large and obvious, such as church wide or citywide revival. But it can also apply to our lives on a more individual, everyday scale.

Some of us have been Christians for so long that we have become rather set in our ways. Perhaps we’ve even adopted a type of spiritual atrophy and aren’t doing anything other than what we have done in the past. However, throughout Scripture, the people of God who are known for their great faith had to bend with the Holy Spirit. They had to leave behind their normal schedules and typical behavior in order to follow the plan of God for their lives. They accepted the “new wine” when it was presented to them, and they were open to the often radical change it had on their plans and life goals.

New wine — the new thing God is doing — requires new wineskins: people who are willing to be soft and pliable in God’s hands. They change shape as God pours into them, and they listen when He speaks.

What is God asking you to do that may require a bit of bending on your part? What have you been considering doing that maybe you should just go ahead and do? Is it getting up earlier to spend time with Him? Is it exercising regularly? Is it being kind to someone? Is it writing the book you’ve been thinking about writing or applying for a different job? Perhaps this recurring thought you’ve been having is something you should listen to.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:10, “God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” The Holy Spirit is the Great Communicator who searches the very deepest parts of God and then reveals them to us. The Spirit of the Living God dwells in, empowers, prepares and equips us so that we can get where we need to go and do what God has called us to do — so we reach the purpose for which He created us. Our next step could be as simple as paying attention to the idea that keeps coming up, the thought that keeps returning to us.

What is God telling your heart to do? Are you doing it? Whatever it is, it is sure to be a grand adventure, and it is sure to produce change.