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Approved - A Devotion

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2 Timothy 2:15-16 (AMP)
Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth. But avoid all empty (vain, useless, idle) talk, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.

The last week has been one of the most challenging that I think I have ever faced. As if running a marathon race and on the last leg which is always the longest mile, my flesh is weak, strength is waning, patience ending, endurance failing and heart reeling just to make it across the finish line. Maybe you feel that way too? Our insurance company has covered our son’s cancer treatment for the past couple of years without incident. His care to date has reached a half of a million dollars which is mind blowing. Radiation and chemotherapy are terribly expensive not to mention all the imaging that he must have to continually examine every square inch of his body for invading disease. After much prayer and consultation with the Lord and his physicians, we believe the next step to be a bone marrow transplant. It sounds more complicated than it really is. They will take stem cells from his bone marrow and preserve them. Under close medical care they will then give him a high dose of chemotherapy to annihilate the hidden, dormant cancer cells that insist on raging back to steal our son’s life, this treatment is near fatal. After they are satisfied that they have done everything to eliminate the cancer they will return the harvested stem cells to restart his body’s immune system and hope it will lead to remission including the long life God has promised our child. It seems logical. Doctors and specialists around the world have been consulted. Everyone is in agreement…except the one who must approve it in order to pay for this expensive treatment. They have denied the request not one time, or two times but three consecutive times. Yesterday, we prepared our final appeals sending them out to the last two agencies that can reverse the insurance company’s decision. I have discovered something quite valuable through the trial and testing of our faith over the past week not to mention the past couple of years, I must present my life to God for approval not man so no matter what happens in the next couple of days concerning our appeal – God has approved us already! An approved workman of the Lord is one who is tested by trial.

What is God after in allowing hardship to come into our life? He is testing our faith in Him for authenticity. He is confirming our hope as confident making our future a reality. If we could just see past the momentary troubles and temporary trials into the future, we would realize that every detail of our life is carefully orchestrated by the Lord to produce righteousness that is evident in faith and confident hope that no matter what our situation is produces peace and joy just knowing that we have God’s Approval. Denial is this life is not meant to produce doubt in our life but to press us into righteousness and a closer relationship with the Lord. We must learn to take disappointment as a stepping stone to the divine plan and purpose of God for our life rather than some sort of discipline from God. He is not punishing you my friend, the Lord is perfecting every detail of our life as we learn to love and trust Him more.

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (AMP)
For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes [answer] in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God. But it is God Who confirms and makes us steadfast and establishes us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and has consecrated and anointed us [enduing us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit]; [He has also appropriated and acknowledged us as His by] putting His seal upon us and giving us His [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as the security deposit and guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].

Stopping in the grocery store to pick up a few things before hurrying home, I heard someone call my name. A friend from church began speaking encouraging words and reminding me of the Promises of God that belong to me if I simply choose to accept them in my life. I have listened to long sermons that have not energized my faith and stirred my Spirit like she did in that moment. The Word of God is fully of many precious promises that are already destined to be part of my life. My role in approval is acceptance. I must accept God’s Will including all of His Precious Promises by faith. Faith becomes action as I begin to align my life with God’s Word that is filled with all the things that are already “yes” and “amen” in my life. God’s Word is who Jesus Christ was when God sent His Son wrapped Him in flesh to convey His Great Love for all of mankind who are called to be sons and daughters of the Most High God. That is you! That is me! But like the prodigal son, most of us must find ourselves face down in the pigsty of life before we return to our father’s house and live in our inheritance once more. Rejuvenated by my brief conversation with such a godly woman, I began to thank God as I tried to focus on my list and get back home. Well, God wasn’t finished with me yet. Rounding the corner with a wobbly buggy (what’s new), I almost managed to take out a local pastor. He recognized me as I did him about the same time. His wife received a bone marrow transplant when she was the same age as our son. Coincidence? Not at all. We began to talk about the common journey that united us. He asked about our son as he and his wife have been praying for him. As the conversation continued, there would be no whining and complaining as we both began to testify to one another about God’s Goodness and this treasure of faith found in learning to trust Him more. He pointed out a fact that I sometimes forget in the fight. We would never have discovered such a treasure with the vast potential of our faith had we not been tested by fire developing a real and true relationship with God thorough Jesus Christ. So as I entered the grocery store wondering how in the world, we had run out of everything so quickly – God had sent His Word to meet me and stirred up my faith all using things in the natural. Why? Because I am approved by God through Jesus Christ. Every promise that He has given me is “yes” and “amen”. It is achieved by faith that produces confident hope and staying power to wait until He comes. His Holy Spirit stirred within me confirming that nothing in my life is coincidental or consequential but every detail is being used to confirm my identity as Child of the Living God who has a rich inheritance in the Kingdom of God.

Romans 5:3-5 (AMP)
Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

Why are do Children of God experience pressure, affliction and hardship? It is all explained in Romans 5, but it is tough to understand. Hope is not necessary for the things that we can produce in our life. We do not hope for a better job but rather look for one. We do not need to hope for a new car but save to buy one. Too many times, Christians use their faith to try to secure earthy necessities and desires. This is pointless. If you can see it, there is no need to hope for it. However, when faced with situations in our life that are beyond our human control with no earthly way out, we must decide if we will rely on and trust the Lord. When all is stripped away, what do you have left? Do you believe in the Love and Faithfulness of God enough to put all your eggs in that basket? In suffering, we become helpless to help ourselves and learn to trust the Lord. Sad but true. I know there must be a better way, but I am a stubborn, selfish and strong-willed person. It is in times of utter weakness when I cannot go on that the sufficiency of God’s Grace is demonstrated in my life. Not because God is not able but now I am willing to put my faith in Him. Patience allows me to begin to wait on God rather than trying to make my own way. Endurance develops maturity in my character. Character is my personal identity. God is looking for approved faith and tried integrity. As I allow these painful situations to mold and shape my faith producing hope for the future, my identity as Child of the Most High God becomes evident and His Promises (which are my inheritance) seem to make it to me. Now I begin to understand what inexpressible joy and peace that passes understanding are all about. I would never have experienced such things believing God for my daily needs. (John 6:26-27) A well-developed faith expects God to provide for us from His Riches which leads to confident hope that allows us to stop worrying about tomorrow and reach for Eternity! You are already approved! God chose you before you were born! (Jeremiah 1:5) He has ordained you to be a messenger to this world and tell of His Great Love. How can you tell anyone about something you do not know? How convincing will your message be if there is no validity to your faith? Only those who truly believe will be able to share His Word with lasting results.

Romans 14:17-18 (AMP)
[After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. He who serves Christ in this way is acceptable and pleasing to God and is approved by men.

The sufficiency of God’s Grace is only evident when we reach the end of ourselves. When we cannot save ourselves or meet our own needs will we ever truly cry out to the Lord and seek right standing with Him once again. Righteousness is the place where we love and trust the Lord more than the things of this world and work steadfastly to separate ourselves from everything and anything that would distance us from the Lord. We become servants of Jesus Christ as we strive with great eagerness to know the Word which is His Identity, to walk in His Way that always leads to righteousness and have His Will which is always perfect. It has nothing to do with the details of life. Yesterday, as I sent out the two final appeals for our son’s treatment, in that same moment – I could feel the Peace of God wash over me. There was no anxiety in the thought “this is it” because I know better. By faith, I have seen the impossible happen. Living in the realm of hope, God’s Grace has been more than sufficient. Even though I have exhausted all efforts, I know that I am approved. In fact for the rest of the day and through the night, I kept hearing the word “approved” in my head. I can almost hear the stamp hitting the paper. I honestly have no idea what the outcome will be in the coming days. But because I seek the Righteousness of God and His Approval first above all other things, I have the peacefulness and joy of the Lord regardless. I used to really struggle with waiting and sometimes I still grow impatient but now when I experience the peace of God that comes when my faith begins to develop and mature into confident hope I am overwhelmed with thankfulness before the promise reaches me. Those who serve Christ this way leads to the Favor of God is released in righteousness by faith to deliver the outcomes that God has detailed for our life. What does that mean? His Grace is sufficient to move the heart of mankind even those in direct opposition of the Kingdom to move on your behalf. What is God waiting for? He is waiting simply for you to love and trust Him just a little more so your faith with prosper into confident hope that will last forever!

Philippians 3:8-9 (AMP)
Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), and that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith.

These words truly recap our journey so far as we have discovered what faith is all about. When everything in our life is counted as loss compared to the priceless privilege of knowing Christ. How do I know that? Because through this terrible trial, all the unimportant worries and cares have been stripped away and the only hope that we have is Jesus Christ. People cannot fix the problem. Money cannot solve it either. The Lord is our only hope. We are out of options and now enter the place called impossible which is exactly where He dwells. The sufficiency of grace takes over where the strength of man ends. I am at that place and shockingly it feels pretty good. All my worry has not added a moment to my life or my son’s so I gave it up for faith that secures Eternity for all who believe. I now am after one thing – genuine faith! It will produce genuine righteousness that allows me to step out of the temporary and live to for the Eternal. Be encouraged today! Do not give up becoming weary in well doing! Study! Be eager to show yourself approved to God alone. He just wants your love and trust anything else is manmade and worthless when it comes to godly success. Every promise for your life is “yes” and “amen” just because you are called by His Name and accepted your position as Child of God. Live like it. Let go of that heavy burden, it belongs to your Father now! You will be filled with the Joy of Jesus and Peace of God as you learn to trust Him more. You are headed to a future that is good and carries hope. Everything is going according to plan! His Plan! You are approved. Live like it!

I Peter 1:6-8 (AMP)
[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, so that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy.

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