Welcome to the Spring 2015
edition of the From His Heart Newsletter: REAL
. We trust the insights below will be a blessing to you. Scroll down to view the following articles in this edition or click here
to download the newsletter as a pdf.
- The Key to Building Spiritual Strength
- Q & A with Jeff
- From Debbie’s Heart - How You Can Experience Victory in Any Circumstance
- A Note From Jeff
- Your Gifts at Work
by Dr. Jeff Schreve
Imagine what it would be like if you could get up in the morning, take a look in the mirror, and see not what’s on the outside, but the condition of your spiritual self. This mirror would allow you to see everything that is present inside: your strengths, your struggles, and your spiritual fitness.
I think many of us would probably walk away from that mirror saying, “Yikes! I need to work out more. My spiritual muscles are turning to mush! Now, for my physical muscles, I know the remedy for me is simple: “Get to the gym, dough boy.” But how do you build up your spiritual “faith muscles” so you can be the person God wants you to be?
Well, there’s actually a lot in common between how you develop your physical muscles and how you develop your spiritual muscles. When you go to the gym, you use equipment that provides resistance to your movements. Whether it’s weights, a treadmill, or a stair climber, these workouts are designed to make you struggle.
In the same way, God uses “resistance” to build our spiritual muscles. As we face struggles and hardships in life, we are forced to dig deeper, seek harder, and trust God like never before.
That’s exactly what happened to Martha in John chapter 11. Her brother Lazarus had passed away, and she told Jesus in verse 21, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Can you hear her sorrow in those words? What pain … what struggle. And in that moment, Martha was given a chance to build her spiritual strength. The story continues in verses 23-27, Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
Martha already believed Jesus was the Messiah. But she was about to dig even deeper and achieve a new level of faith. When Jesus told her to remove the stone covering Lazarus’ grave, she admitted her doubts saying in verse 39, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Yet even in her doubts, she tapped into her faith and had the stone removed.
As you know, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and brought resolution to Martha’s struggle. But throughout the whole ordeal, Jesus never let Martha off the hook. He could’ve spoken a word and healed Lazarus before death, but He didn’t. He could have removed the stone with a word, but He didn’t. He told Martha to see to that. He wanted to give her faith a workout!
In the midst of your struggles, remember that God is giving your faith a workout. When it feels like God doesn’t make sense, cling to what He says to be true in His Word. Trust God in your struggles, step out in faith, and you’ll build spiritual strength you never knew you had.
Q: Jeff, I was betrayed by a close friend and I’m struggling deeply. Can God really use this for my good?
A: Just like Jesus did with Martha, God is giving you an opportunity to exercise your faith in Him and “remove the stone” in your life (John 11:39). Follow Martha’s example and start by taking God at His Word. One way you can do this is by looking at Jesus’ command in Matthew 18:21-22,
“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’”
Forgiving your friend will be a spiritual workout. But by God’s power and grace, you can choose to forgive and release your offender from the prison of your resentment and bitterness. When you make that important choice, you’ll emerge from your struggles stronger than ever!
Q: I was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. What does it look like for God to turn my struggles into spiritual strength?
A: At some point, each of us will reach a struggle in this life that we won’t physically overcome. Yet when we reach that final battle, our strength won’t be manifest in physically beating death. It will be revealed in remaining faithful to the Lord, knowing our victory is yet to come.
Continue to praise Him and trust Him, no matter what. Whether He heals you physically or not, He promises that your greatest victory is coming.
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I’ve always loved the whimsical art of Mary Englebreit. One of my favorite quotes of hers is “Life is just a chair of bowlies.” A cute play on words. So often we go through life thinking that it is supposed to be “a bowl of cherries”… that everything should just be great all the time. No worries, no problems, no disappointments. But that’s just not reality. In this fallen world, we experience troubles. So what do we do when problems come our way?
In October of 2005, I had a routine surgery that went bad. There was a complication that would require additional surgery and keep me bed-bound for about four months. I was in great pain, scared, and overwhelmed at the idea of having to have another operation. My life was being altered and I found myself falling into a pit of fear, frustration, anger, and self-pity. I started asking a lot of WHY questions including, “Why didn’t God prevent this from happening to me?”
As the days progressed with no answers, I had a choice to make. Through what lens was I going to view God: a distorted lens or a clear one? Was I going to stay fearful, doubting, discouraged, and frustrated OR was I going to go back to what I KNEW to be true? That God is good… ALL the time. That He has great plans for me. That He will turn my mourning into dancing. That He will work ALL things together for my good.
When troubles come—and they will—we have a choice to make. We can choose to trust God regardless of how we feel, and that’s what I did back in 2005. I chose to keep believing, loving, and growing in my relationship with Him. I chose to destroy the lens of doubt. I chose to keep my mind and heart focused on Him and His great love for me.
What will YOU choose to focus on? Like me, you may never get an answer to your why questions, so don’t waste time and energy focusing on those. Instead, let me encourage you to take all your problems to God and trust Him to use them all for your good. Focus on His goodness, regardless of your circumstances, and choose to trust. Be encouraged because He can make your life “a chair of bowlies”! Back to Top
Do you remember the story of Abraham? God gave him a promise and told him, “I’m going to give you a son.” Abraham (then called Abram) and his wife, Sarah (then called Sarai), were already quite old, 70 and 60 respectively. It was going to take a miracle for Sarah to conceive post-menopause.
Abraham and Sarah were certainly excited about this wonderful promise and coming miracle. Rumor has it they went out the next day to shop for cribs! Surely this son was coming inside of a year, right? Wrong! In fact, God waited 30 more years before he gave Abraham and Sarah little Isaac, the son of promise, the son of miracle birth!
During these 30 years of waiting, we’re given insight into Abraham’s struggles. Though he never wavered in his belief that God would fulfill His promise, he tried to do things his own way—even taking Hagar, Sarah’s maid, to produce a child from the household. Ugh!
But every struggle he faced made his faith stronger. In fact, in Genesis 22, God told him to sacrifice his long-awaited son Isaac. God put a stop to the sacrifice, but Abraham was ready to do whatever God said because he had built such a rock-solid faith.
Friend, it doesn’t matter when circumstances say “no way”… or when your feelings say “it can’t happen.” Trust the Word of God and the promises of God. Believe Him, even when it seems impossible. He’ll always come through and fulfill His Word!
I truly hope your faith is lifted as you read this edition of our newsletter. It’s my prayer that in its pages you find encouragement and empowerment to trust God no matter your circumstances.
Thank you, as always, for your generous support and prayers as together we share real love, real truth, and real hope from the gracious heart of God with men and women around the world. God bless you!
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I live in the Middle East and am from a Muslim background. At 14, our youngest boy gave his life to Jesus. At first my husband and I were not pleased, until the Lord called me and then my husband. We are now worshiping the Lord of lords and the King of kings, and I want to thank you for the impact your ministry is having on us! —Nusaybah*
I am listening to all your older radio programs online. Thank you for making them available. I start out my day with at least one. It allows me to put on the full armor of God, and then pray and ask the Lord to show me what He wants me to do for Him this day! —Pattie
*Actual name withheld for security purposes
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