Simple words of encouragement… “God is for YOU!”

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Has discouragement tried to enter where God has placed you today? Has confusion tried to make you feel less than; as if God is not for you today?  Has your day already started off on the wrong foot?

Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation. . .,” John 16:33a. He knew that there would some days where we face trouble and discouragement; there would be times when we feel like we are in this alone. In those times, He wants to reassure us that He is for us. He has never left us. He has never forsaken us. His plans for us have a glorious end so don’t let any circumstance make you believe that God doesn’t have your back because He does. He’s here and He is for you!

Jesus went on to say, ” …but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33b; and if you are in Him and stay with Him and believe in Him, you will too. Because God is for you!

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“…But Lord, I Thank You!” – Word For Life Says

Job 1:20-22 “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”

Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Job 19:25-27 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”

Anytime we see a “…” in a sentence it expresses a train of thought and direction or a transition if you will.  That “…” is very important to this message.

Times of transition can be good and bad.  When one is engrossed in unpleasant circumstances a nice change of pace can be just what the doctor ordered.  It breathes new life into you and lifts your spirits high making you feel as if you are on cloud nine.  At the same time, when one is entering times of affliction, lack of any sort of substandard anything compared to what they are used to, the feelings of dread and just suffering through take over.

There are different seasons that everyone goes through in life.  There are times of joy and there are times of pain.  While we don’t mind dealing with the seasons of joy and happiness that come our way, a whole other story could be told for the times of pain and suffering we encounter.

There are seasons, even for the Christian, that come that are not too pleasant.  There are times when the people of God had to endure trials and tribulations.  There are episodes of turmoil that have wiggled their way into our families, our lives, our jobs, and our finances.

Sometimes difficult and new stuff pops up out of nowhere, things you weren’t looking to happen in this season of life, and it has blindsided you and caught you off guard.  There may be things that surprised you and now you just don’t know which way you are going.  The road hasn’t always been easy to travel.  We are looking for the new.  We need a transition.  We are in need of a “…” moment.

It’s time to move from the victim mentality and don a praise mentality.  It’s time to move from the feeling defeated mentality to no matter what’s going in my life, “…Lord, I just want to thank You” mentality.

A praise mentality says no matter the situation we are going through I still have a reason to worship.  We still have a reason to lift our hands in utter adoration!  We still have a reason to fall to our knees in prayer!  We still have a reason to believe His grace and mercy is at work in our lives!  I still have a reason to say, “Thank You!”

Job is one of the most figurative Bible characters who we surmise as suffering outside of Jesus Christ our Savior.  So, I figured if anybody can teach us how to be thankful despite what we’re going through it could be Job.

Job was a man whom God describes in the Bible as being upright and perfect, Job 1:8.  He is known for turning himself away from the path of evil, not giving it a foothold in his life.  Yet, in his righteous living, he was still susceptible to being tested in some of the worse ways possible.  He lost everything from possessions down to the very people he loved the most in life.

Job’s experiences can be summed up in that one word: suffering. Job knew suffering.  Job knew what it was like to love and lose; to have and to have not.  What’s more is he lost everything at the same time, piling traumatic event after traumatic event on till he thought his heart couldn’t take any more (read Job 1-2 for greater detail).

Sitting in a pile of ashes with seemingly nothing left, could he at least find comfort in the good word of a friend? Will they speak encouragement to help him carry the weight of his burdensome troubles?

The answer sadly is, “No.”  His friends started out with good intentions but by the time they reach chapter 4, Job’s friends became what is known as “miserable comforters.”  They decided to chime in with their opinions of what was right and wrong.  This was where their attempts at comfort went downhill.  They berated Job and blamed him for all that he was going through.

Job literally had no one and the weight of the world was upon his shoulders, but his response to his trials is what blew my mind away.  When things first began to unravel for him, in the verses we read in chapter 1 he shaved his head, fell down on his face and he worshipped.

The words that came out of his mouth were of praise and thanks.  He said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!

That word “blessed” is synonymous with celebrating God with praise in spite of.  That word blessed is acknowledging God is good no matter what the circumstances around me say.  That word blessed is also translated in the New and Old Testament to give thanks!  “Blessed be the name of the LORD!”  Job, with his shaved head of sorrow and humble spirit, gave God thanks amid the sorrow he was going through!

His response reminds me of Psalm 34:1 where the psalmist proclaimed, “I will bless the Lord at all times and His praise shall continually be in my mouth!”  I will thank God always and I will never stop celebrating His goodness!  I will show God gratitude always and I will never stop lifting Him up.  I will appreciate God even in this and I will never stop recognizing that He and He only is God of my life.

Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  My always for all things may not look the way I want it to right now, but Lord I thank You, is what he’s saying!  I am not saying thank you because I like problems, but I am saying thank You because I know the God I serve.  I am saying thank you because He is working on the inside to change things on the outside.  I am saying thank you because God is setting us up for a future that is glorious in Him!  Therefore, “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  I am in Christ; therefore I give thanks!  I have been washed by the blood, therefore I give thanks.  Yes, life hurts sometimes and yes, the walls come crashing down sometimes, but I owe God a praise.  I thank God for seeing me through every trouble, every storm that blows my way!  “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”

Job’s response went even further than this.  In Job 19, he said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives.”  Things were not exactly turning in his favor.  At that time, his today didn’t look any better than his yesterday.  His friends are still in his face challenging him with their accusations.  But, despite his personal persecutions, he emphatically declares, “I know . . .”

Knowing speaks of assurance. A declaration of knowing tells doubt there is no place here for you. “Know” is certain that this is what it is. And, what he is certain of is “my redeemer liveth.” God is alive and will always be alive. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Revelation 1:8).

“He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”  Job knew that God was and is the end-all of all authority, victory and power. Standing upon anything denotes mastery and dominion of said object.  Job knew where his trust lies.  In God who is victorious: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him,” (Psalm 68:1).  Paul, speaking of Christ said He, “hath put all things under his feet…,” (Ephesians 1:22).  Even this.

“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”  There is hope beyond the here and now. Physically, it didn’t look good for Job. He had “sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown,” (Job 2:7).  He, in dealing with the pain of his body and the pain of his heart must have thought there is not that much more time left. At one point of desperation, things had gotten so bad, Job prayed for death (see Job 6:8-9).

Despite it all, he knew that there was a better day beyond the corruption of his flesh.  His body, when the time came, would lie in the ground and the worms would have their way with him, but he looked forward to another glorious time when “in my flesh shall I see God.”  Things were hard for Job, but in his speech, you can still see his faith alive and active in what he believes: and he believes GOD!  Therefore, “I bless God!  I give God thanks!”

Job teaches us how to respond to God in midst of trials and troubles.  He may have been down, especially when his friends attacked him, but he still recognized God for who He is.  He basically transitioned his mentality to shift his focus from what was before him to the God who can save Him.

Yes, he grew weary and even questioned why he was going through what he was going through.  Who wouldn’t?  But, through it all you still see his faith in God come to the forefront in the midst of his story.

In the end, Job was blessed with a double portion of blessings.  God testified of Job to his friends.  God spoke up for Job and said, “My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath,” (Job 42:7).

It’s not too late for God to turn it around and to testify on your behalf.  The week of Thanksgiving is here, and this year is not over yet.  There is still room for a blessing.  And, even if not – if God never does another thing for us, can we say, “Lord, I thank You?”

At the end of the day, as hard as it may be sometimes, we must transition our thinking and say “… But Lord, I thank YOU!”

 

Tuning In and Tuning Out

 

 

I absolutely love earplugs.  As someone who spends a great deal of time reading and studying, the ability to block out irritating and distracting noises is quite appealing to me.  I mean, really, I could be in the same room with someone watching TV, and with my trusty earplugs, I can continue in my little-secluded paradise of the book or materials I am going through and remain undisturbed.  The people around me can continue their activities all willy nilly and my little bubble of earplug world is protected.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the grand scheme of this thing called life, popping in earplugs to block out unwelcomed voices and interruptions is not so easy.  Yet, what we allow to seep into our hearing can shape you for the good or the bad.  It can influence your next move in life or totally debilitate you depending on what messages you are paying the most attention to.

We have the choice to tune in or tune out the right frequencies that will build our faith, encourage our walk, and bolster our energy that will inspire us to move forward.  Like those radios of old, we turn the knob until we get the right wavelength so that we can hear them playing our song.  And, when it comes to life and where God is leading us, we want them playing our song.  We want to hear things that are pleasing; things that encourage and lift up.

But, as the story of this world goes, that’s not always the case.  Negative is all around us so we have to be selective in what we receive into us, into our thinking, and into our faith.  Sometimes you even have to turn a deaf ear to your own inner voice.  You know the one; the one that expresses doubt and confusion where there should be none.

Every message and every voice we allow to take up space in us is something that will fill us with positive or negative potential.

Gideon was a man in the Bible who had to overcome insecurity.  He not only had to deal with his fear of what it really meant to go against such a large army with a few men, but he also had to tune out his own inner voice that expressed doubt about what God was going to do for him and the people against the Midianite army.

God directed Gideon to go down into the camp with one purpose: to tune him into a different channel of thought than what he had been listening to.  God wanted him to hear something different.  He said, “If you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant, and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp,” (Judges 7:10-11, NKJV).

When he got into the camp unawares, what he heard changed his whole perspective on the move of God in his life.  There were certain men of the enemy’s army talking and one told the other of a dream he had: “I have had a dream: To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and overturned, and the tent collapsed,” (Judges 7:13, NKJV).

The man who was listening to the dream admitted the truth he felt as its telling.  He said, “This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hands God has delivered Midian and the whole camp,” (Judges 7:14, NKJV).  Gideon heard the enemy admit defeat before the battle was even fought because God was with the people of Israel.

When those words fell on Gideon’s ears it changed his perspective on the battle.  Those words fed his inner man with a healthy dose of courage and caused him to get into agreement with God.  He spoke to his fellow countrymen and gave this report: “Arise, for the LORD has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand,” (Judges7:15, NKJV).  He was ready to step into new territory of being victorious for God.  He was ready to take on this battle and win.

Stand guard against what you allow to be fed into your hearing.  For what enters your hearing enters your thoughts, and what enters your thoughts affects the spirit man.  Today, make a conscientious effort to tune in to what God is saying through His Spirit and through His Word and tune out anything negative that speaks against His truth.  Let Him be your spiritual earplugs.

Text Free Photo: Pixabay/LubosHouska

“Never Too Strong for God!”

 

“He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me;
For they were too strong for me,” 2 Samuel 22:18

“Is there anything too hard for me?” is a question God asked Jeremiah, (Jer. 32:27). “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” was the question God put to Abraham after Sarah laughed at the possibility of having a child in her old age. Luke 1:37 tells us, “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” and yet, when faced with things in this life we don’t understand and heartaches untold, we often feel our situations are out of His reach. As if the problems that overwhelm us are too strong for Him, also.

Due to the anointing on his life, David faced enemies who hated him for no reason. He spent many days with his life hanging in the balance. But, in the end, he declared, “He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me,” (2 Sam. 22:18).  I’m wondering, is there anything you have been facing lately that just seems off the charts? Do the difficulties you face feel like it’s just too much to handle? Are you going through a situation that seems “too strong” for you?

Take heart today! There is no weight too heavy that God can’t lift it! There is no enemy too strong that God can’t overcome them! There is no miracle too miraculous that God can’t cause it to come to pass! There is nothing too hard for God in any situation, problem or adversity we may face! The enemies and hardship you face today may seem to overwhelm you but they will never overwhelm God. They are never too strong for God to handle. So, with that being said, whatever you face, give it to God and wait for Him to bring you through. God is strong enough to take on anything! We can trust Him with whatever is “too strong” for us. God can deliver you today!

Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

Community of Believers | We are here for one another!

 

Races can take you through many terrains.  Running uphill, it’s hard.  The more you go, the steeper the incline, the harder it gets.  Breath after breath your chest heaves for relief.  Push after push your muscles cry out for mercy.  And, just when you thought you had no more in you; just when you thought you couldn’t go any farther, from behind there comes these hands out of nowhere that steadies your stride and helps propel you forward some more.  On the side of you comes smiling faces with encouraging words grabbing hold of your arms and help pull you up that incline that you might finish your race.  They want to help you make it.

The Apostle Paul often described our Christian life as a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  We run it.  We press for it.  But, sometimes the way gets hard and if it had not been for the grace of God, we would not have made it.

As the community of racers pushed and pulled the struggling runner uphill, so God will minister to us to help us go through our race.  Often this is done through the community of believers that will come alongside the one that needs support.

In this world the struggle is real.  May we, as a community of believers, recognize the support that each one needs.  May we join up with our fellow Christian race runners and offer the help and encouragement they need to make it.  May we see beyond our own race and allow God to use our hands and smiling faces to help bolster someone’s faith as they are striving to make it up the inclines of this life.

We all have the same goal in mind: to finish the race.  We need each other to do it.  As a community of believers, our job goes beyond spreading the gospel and being a light in this dark world, and all the other spiritual stuff it entails.  Our job is also to seek the welfare of one another.  We need to be there for one another.  We need to be present and involved in the process of what they are going through “that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it,” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).  

More encouraging verses and quotes:

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow . . .” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a

“God has chosen us to help one another.” Smith Wigglesworth

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photo Source: Pixabay

Confident in God!

There is always something about the stories where the underdog comes out on top, where the least of all becomes the greatest that sends chills of inspiration up the spine.

The story of David and Goliath has long evoked a sense awe at the victory won and the hope of possibility in the soul still in the fight facing his/her own giants. The fact of the matter is that many things in this life which we face day to day can at times seem too much to bear.  Our worries don’t necessarily have to be against the biggest guy around.  Just the struggle of making it one more day, another try at giving it your best shot, can make it really hard for some people.

That’s why this article is not going to focus on the beast Goliath was or how David brought him down with just a stone and slingshot.

Nope. I want us to focus on the confidence that David had in God.

To me, it doesn’t matter if what you face is big or small. Sometimes the hardest stuff is the routine, small stuff that gets on your nerves every single day and makes you want to throw in the towel and quit.

Yes, David did the impossible in the name of the Lord. But, what I have found out in my own life is when we evoke that same confidence in God in every area of our lives, big or small, God tends to step in and work it out for us.  And, you know it was Him because that very area in life that used to be a source of hardship and frustration now becomes a place of peace and productivity.

David, before confronting Goliath, declared, “The LORD delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine,” (1 Samuel 17:37, NKJV. emphasis mine).  I want us to focus on “He will” of that statement.  David expressed in those two little words the amount of confidence he had in the God he served.

Confidence in God the key no matter what. Many of times we misplace our confidences in the things and the people we see around us, allowing them to become our focus and control, when God should be at the forefront of the battle with us.  Over and over again we are told in His Word, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man,” (Psalm 118:8, NKJV); yet, man seems to always get more of our attention and we wonder why we falter in the battle and don’t end up standing as victor over the giants and circumstances we face.

We have to rely more on God than anything else in this world. He truly is the only one who can get in there and fight with us and for us and bring us to a victorious end on the other side.

Below are some reminders to trust God and have confidence in Him no matter the size of anything we face. Knowing this will improve our day to day struggles in life and turn them into day to day victories.

  • “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
  • “Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” – Isaiah 26:4
  • “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” – Psalm 37:3
  • “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17
  • “Never be afraid to trust in unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie Ten Boom
  • “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” – Martin Luther
  • “So many of us limit our praying because we are not reckless in our confidence in God. In the eyes of those who do not know God, it is madness to trust Him, but when we pray in the Holy Spirit we begin to realize the resources of God, that He is our perfect heavenly Father, and we are His children.” – Oswald Chambers

“The Beauty of God’s Heart”

 

The beauty of God’s heart is most known to us through those wonderful things that make Him, Him.  Traits and characteristics that stood to defend us when we should have been condemned.

Some portray God in the harshest sense.  With gavel in hand at the least little infraction, we are automatically charged and sentenced.  While God most certainly will judge all unrepentant sin, the beauty of His heart gives chance after chance, offering multiplied times to receive His forgiveness.

Hard, God is not.  We could probably never know how many more times we have experienced His undeserved redemption, grace, and mercy at work in our lives than we did any deserved penalties.

The beauty of God’s heart wants to save, not destroy (2 Peter 3:9).  Thus, He forebears with us and is longsuffering toward us.  That means He’s not in a rush to convict as some suppose (but again, all unrepentant sin will be dealt with).  Rather, His heart seeks to acquit; to exonerate one from guilt through Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, who bore the guilt we should have been marked by.

You see, the beauty of God’s heart is untouched by anything we can imagine.  When we see Him set the spiritual captives free, the beauty of His heart understands that in our human capacity we will never comprehend the true and total cost of what it took to do that.

When we see Him heal we may rejoice in the miracle, but we will never understand with full clarity that there was never supposed to be a need for healing.  The beauty of God’s heart sees the original wholeness that was intended from the beginning and that it’s only through the sadness of sin that this malady of the flesh has entered into the world.  I imagine the beauty of God’s heart holds the simpleness of all that creation was intended to be when He spoke, “It is good,” (Genesis).

I imagine His heart holding everything that is good, and perfect, and lovely, and wonderful.  Walking through the most beautiful field of flowers on the world’s most glorious day surrounded by the greatest peace this world has to offer could not even begin to scratch the surface of what we find in Him.

I imagine the beauty of His heart can be described much like His shining countenance found glowing from that Holy City in the Revelation.  In it, there is brilliance and radiance.  There is mystery, yet there is also a longing for intimacy with His creation.  There is grandeur, but at the same time, it only takes the simplicity of faith to come near Him.

God watches mankind live after and pursue their own plans and purposes each and every day, yet the beauty of His heart holds the cares of each person and each choice we make, wayward or not.

The main thing is the beauty of God’s heart is intimately in touch with His creation; with you and me.  No matter where we go, in flesh or just in thought, His heart knows and is involved.

As mighty, and holy, and sovereign, and omniscient as God is, why is He so mindful of us and our sometimes messy lives?  The answer is because of the beauty of His heart.  For above all, God is love (1 John 4:8) and His heart holds all the love that we can’t even begin to imagine, in the most beautiful sense, pure and undefiled from anything we can know down here, for each and every one of us.

Even when we reach that place in glory we may still not fully comprehend all the beauty His heart holds.  But oh, how wonderful it is to experience it, feel it, and know the beauty of God’s heart holds a special place for me and you.

Father God,

            You are so beautiful to us and toward us.  May we recognize the care You take to hold each one of us in the crevice of Your very being and may that realization cause us to draw nearer to You each and every day.  In the name of Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray,

                                                                                                                        Amen!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Don’t Romanticize Life!”

“Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” 1 Peter 4:12

“Confirming the souls of the disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we may through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22

One of the best things about being an avid reader is the happy ending that appears at the end of almost every book I read.  When you first dive into a new book you begin to get familiar with the characters and their life.  Each turn of the page takes us along on their journey, revealing to us their joys and sadness, hardships and pain.  By the time we reach those last few pages, everything has worked itself out.  There’s almost always a reason for celebration and the typical “aww” moment, especially if you’re into romance novels.

That’s the great thing about books.  They allow your imagination to soar, taking you into worlds you may not otherwise get a chance to explore.  Your mind’s eye gets hooked up with the writer’s vision for the book and soon a vivid story begins to unfold before you.  Though there are no pictures, illustrations begin to form revealing all that is written therein.  Television has its place – oh, but to read a book!

Whether it be a movie, television program or a book the stories we hear and see transport us, giving us a reprieve from reality.  But, when the last page is read or the screen goes blank, it’s back to reality.  And, reality isn’t always as picturesque as the stories we left behind.  Sometimes love does not find its way.  Sometimes the bad guy does get away.  Sometimes the hero doesn’t make it home.  Sometimes the disease doesn’t get healed.  Sometimes the child does not find their way home.  Sometimes the friend does not stick closer than a brother, and so on.

Sometimes life is just plain ole not fun!  I think more so than ever that we have not heard enough about the reality of life.  Instead, we are raising up a generation of rose-colored glasses wearers.  Even from the pulpit of most American churches, the messages of peace, prosperity and wealth has taken over the reality of life.  Jesus Christ, Himself clearly stated that in the world you will have tribulation, John 16:33.  Peace and blessings will come.  Promises will be fulfilled.  But our physical being is planted in the world right now, and while we are here we have to face the reality that everything, every day is not going to be easy.

This philosophy breeds a culture of disillusionment.  Romanticizing life leaves one totally off guard and taken aback when troubling times occur.  A hard life is a hard life no matter which way you look at it and when one is not ready in the least for it, the residual effects can be devastating.  “We may through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God.”  It is going to be hard sometimes.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you,” 1 Peter 4:12.  In other words, the test is going to be hard sometimes.  Tests are not passed with a fly by the night attitude.  Tests are passed when people are prepared for them.  But, the wearer of the rose-colored glasses with will have a harder time because the tests seem like a “strange thing” that has happened unto them.

Listen, prepared or not, some things in life will just come out of the blue and whip your world around causing you to say, “What the what?”  It’s inevitable.  The idea behind not romanticizing life is to expect the unexpected.  We don’t want to lose out on those promises God has for us because we have the false illusion that nothing will ever happen to us.

The promises are coming, that’s a given.  In John 16:33, after Jesus warned, “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” He also gave us cause to celebrate.  He said, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  And, after Peter wrote of the “strange thing,” he exhorted his readers with verses 13-14a.  He said, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you . . .”

Oh yes, thank God for the promises.  Every word that speaks of them is true.  But, don’t be surprised when we have to go through some stuff today before we reach those promises.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

What to do with days when things just aren’t going right?

What to do with this day when things aren’t clicking and time keeps ticking?  When things refuse to fall into the designated places you had for them?  When it feels like it’s completely squashed before it starts?  So many plans lay up ahead but the weight and the feeling and the pressure of it all leaves one with a sense of unaccomplishment and unfulfillment.  Taking a look outside and it seems to be that everyone else is getting on with this day and doing but the fight in here, right now, and the press that comes with it, it just doesn’t seem to want to work out.  All the gears for all the mechanics of this day are present, in place, and spinning, but they are just not grabbing correctly to move what we are trying to accomplish forward successfully.

What to do with this day when there seems to be conflict and strain with one another?  When relationships don’t hug the way you want them to hug or love the way you want to be loved?  When misunderstandings, assuming, and yes, even one’s own personal views on a matter put barriers between the spirit of fellowship and love.  When hurts causes one’s steps to move ever so fragile as if on eggshells, fearing the disappointment and disapproval of someone else?

What to do with this day when rogue feelings break away from the pack you had planned for the day and invade and try to rob you of the potential joy that lay up ahead in the hours to come?  Thieves of insecurity.  Thieves of shame.  Thieves of feeling woefully torn.  These thieves come with many hideous and damaging names.  The day was brand new and fresh at the start, but that didn’t stop these unwanted parasitic nuisances from latching on and tainting it with the feelings of mess-ups, adversity, pain, and disappointments from your yesterdays.

So, what to do with these kinds of days when our plans, or people, or feelings just don’t want to cooperate with the vision you had set for it?

Give it to God!  That one answer tells us how to deal with it, the proper response to it, and what to do with the rest of it.  This is not some Christian rhetoric or cliche.  It is a solid truth that we can stand on and base our faith on.  We give it God.

The very real truth is that at any given time on any given day we will all or have all experienced one or many of the daily upsets listed above (and sometimes even more than these).  It is all a part of life; a part that can really throw us off kilter if we don’t process it right and deal with it in the right way.

Therefore, when everything is going absolutely bonkers, sometimes without rhyme or reason; when nothing within our power or control is working, we give it all to Him who has all power and control.  Not as a mythical genie creature whose bottle we rub to have things or people turn out the way we want them to.  But, as releasing it to His majesty and sovereign will.  It’s saying, “I trust you, God.”  Whether this day turns out how I configured it or not, my plans, my people, my times, my heart, my feelings – they are all in Your hands.

God is not only the Creator of all the universe and the Author of all mankind, but He is concerned about your daily needs for each individual day as well.  All the areas that need filling, all the upsets that need dealing with, all the plans that need to be taken care of, and all the worries that bog us down – He’s concerned about it all.

But, as we release the day to Him we must also realize His best answer for us may be to not move everything or anything into the places where we see fit.  Sometimes, His best answer for what we are going through with this day to let us learn from it, experience it and still maintain trust in Him.  That no matter how it goes forward, no matter what we feel in the process, no matter who we are dealing with and how we are dealing with them – He still sees it all, knows it all, and has it all in His loving and powerful hands.

So, when days like this come, we give it to God, step back, and just trust Him.

Here are some verses and prayers to hold in your heart when the days just aren’t going right for you:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Father God, I acknowledge that I don’t know everything about this day, my future, or even how to properly respond to it all.  I pray for Your leading to show me the right path to walk that my life might be pleasing in Your sight.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Father God, the end of all things may be vague to me or even remain a mystery.  Help my heart to hold on to the very real fact that you knew me from the beginning and you know how my story ends; that if I am in Your hands, then I am in Your plan.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Psalm 126:6 “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Father God, my tears and confusion for the day, You see it all.  Help me to know that it is not all in vain.  Let my confidence be in You and Your love for me above all else, knowing that for every sadness, there will be joy.  That when You restore, for every sorrow that was sown there will be reaping of happiness and peace.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

 

 

“Hurts and Disappointments and Troubles – OH MY!”

Anytime we hear a three-worded phrase followed by a quick, “Oh my,” our minds automatically associate with that old 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.  It’s when Dorothy and her companions are readying themselves to go into the dark, dense forest when their chant of possible woes begin that tell of what may lay ahead and come to prowl.

The Bible tells us there is an enemy that’s on the prowl.  He is described as a “roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” (1 Peter 5:8).  He is never full and always looks for destruction and he seeks to block the pathway of those trying to reach that glorious city.  And no, we’re not talking about the Emerald one, but that city called heaven.

Hurts, disappointments, and troubles are things we can run into during our sojourn in this life and things the enemy seeks to magnify in our lives.  David likened it to times of walking through the “valley of the shadow of death,” (Psalm 23:4a).  It can be a fearsome place with many traps and travails scattered about the pathway.  But, unlike the fear that took over those venturing into the dark forest, David declared, “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me . . .” (Psalm 23:4b).  For David, it wasn’t about the dark forest and it wasn’t about the valley of the shadow of death.  For him, it was all about Who was with him in the midst of it all.

And, the “Who” that was with him was the same God who declared, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5).  The same God who sits high above the earth and His train fills the temple, Isaiah 6:1.  The same God who is ever mighty, ever omnipotent, everlasting, and never failing.

This is the same God who is Jehovah Jireh (Genesis 22:14), our Provider in the time of need.  He is God Most High (Psalm 97:9), always in charge and always reigning sovereignly over all.  He is always above and never beneath.  He is always with and never without.  All dominions and powers must and will bow down to Him.

God is the Creator who spoke the universe with all its cycles, atoms, particles, and life into existence.  With His power to speak anything and everything into being, comes also the strength and authority to heal.  With His ability to fashion the things uncontrollable to men such as the winds and the waves, He can speak, and bring forth peace out of chaos, and make them be still.

You see, when David gave his recitation of the Lord as his Shepherd, he was doing more than putting cute words together.  He was making a bold declaration of faith, choosing to believe in and focus more on He who was with him than all that’s going on around him.

This is the strong key to the faith we need to successfully deal with things that may be hiding in the dark forest or the low valleys of our lives.  Hurts, disappointments, and troubles are something we will all have to face from time to time.

But, oh my!  When they meet the God I know; the God I serve!  The God whom David expressed such bold confidence in!  The God who is indescribable in His holiness and majesty because it goes beyond what we can comprehend; and yet, describable by His characteristics of love, mercy, and grace.  The only God of all heaven and earth . . .  When they meet Him, He can change their roaring course.  He can subdue their evil uprising.  And, He can take over and overwhelm their destructive nature, all the while, surrounding and protecting His people with His love, security, and readiness to stand with them and for them.

While we are on this side of glory we are going to have unpleasant things to face.  But, oh my – when we see Jesus, every trial, trouble, and evil way will dissipate and all that will remain is our God and those who are tied to Him in a covenant relationship through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Until that day, remember, no matter what you are dealing with today, if you are a child of God, you are not alone.  He’s there.  He’s here.  He’s right beside us.  His Spirit dwells in us.  God is walking with us and holding us through every dark forest and every valley of the shadow of death.

Isn’t that wonderful to find out – oh my, you are not alone.  Lean into Him with trust as He walks with you through this journey.