Comfort In Calamity

When I was in high school, my physics teacher gave us an assignment where each of us had to build a bridge out of popsicle sticks and glue. There were some other specifications it had to meet as well. Then, on the date the assignment was due, he put the bridges to a battery of tests to see how well they held up. One test was a weight test. He kept adding weights to the bridge until it broke. Only one bridge in the class survived this test. The rest all cracked at some point under the weights. On that particular one, the teacher ran out of weights to put on it and it was still standing strong.

The book of Nahum in the Bible is a book of prophesy that spoke of a time of calamity and hard times that were coming. Unlike some other books of prophesy, this one was designed to administer peace in those times. Even the name of the prophet God chose to write the book Nahum has significance to the prophesy. It means comfort. I believe God was telling the readers of this book that no matter how bad things get, He is there to comfort us and give us peace.

Nahum 1:7 says, “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him” (NLT). I love that first phrase. It’s not a promise, it’s a fact. The Lord is good. He’s also strong. Each of us have a breaking point under the weight of stress, but God doesn’t. He is a strong refuge when we are weighed down. We must learn to trust Him with our burdens and the weights that we carry. Even though at times it feels like we’re alone, He is close to us ready to comfort us in our time of need and able to handle the weight that would crush us.

If you’ve been going through a tough time and have been wondering where God is it how could a good God allow bad things to happen, check out my friend’s book “God is Here” by clicking here.

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Overcome

I love the song “Overcome” sung by Jeremy Camp. It was written by a friend of his who went to a church that went through some difficult times. One of the incidents was where a gunman came in and opened fire killing several people. The church’s response wasn’t to close down or to operate in fear. Instead, this song became their anthem. They took their focus off of themselves and their situation, and put it on the one who has already overcome and who gives us victory. I think this song resonates with so many people because we all go through difficulties. We all have times in our lives when we’re desperate.

When you think about those times in your life, there’s a voice in your head that tells you, “No one else is going through this. You’re the only one who is experiencing this. You’re alone. No one understands.” Those lies are meant to isolate you and to keep you quiet. They are the first step in defeating you, but you must not listen to them. While your situation may be unique to you, the pain you feel has been felt by many and will be felt by others in the future. When you’re quiet about what you’re experiencing, you prevent those who can help you from coming to your aid. You also fail to give hope to those who will experience pain in the future.

Revelations 12:11 says, “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony” (NLT). If we’re quiet, we’re defeated, but if we speak, we defeat our accuser. Testimonies are powerful and our enemy would rather we stay quiet. If God has brought you through something, tell your story. It’s in your pain that others will find their healing. It’s in telling your story that you will overcome. Don’t be a prison to your past pain any longer. Share it even if it’s with one person, and defeat your enemy.

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Here’s a link to the video of the song.

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A Restored Life

Jonah is a story we are all familiar with, and it’s a story we can all relate to in some fashion. I believe every one of us are created with a purpose only we are uniquely qualified to accomplish. Jonah was called to a city he hated and a people he couldn’t stand. He knew that God is merciful and good, so he knew that God would forgive the people of Nineveh if they repented. So he did what so many of us do, he ran from his calling. Of course you know that didn’t work out so well. A storm threatened the life of everyone on the ship he was on. That’s when I believe he thought if he died, so would the people of Nineveh.

You know that he had the crew throw him overboard and the Bible says that God prepared a large fish that came and swallowed him whole. As he sat in the darkness, he remembered that God is good and would even forgive him for this disobedience. In Jonah 2:2 he said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me” (NLT). Jonah repented of his actions and God heard him. He asked God for help even though he was in the middle of paying the price for his disobedience and God answered his prayer.

There are times that all of us disobey God. Like Jonah, we need to get past our pride and call out to God for mercy. It doesn’t matter what kind of trouble we’re in or how far away from God we feel, a simple cry for help is heard in Heaven. God is waiting to respond to each of us to restore us to the life He’s called us to. It takes us reaching the point where we cry out to Him though. The good news is that we don’t have to wait until we hit rock bottom or are so far away we’re sitting in darkness. God will hear your cry wherever you are and answer you. He is full of mercy, compassion and forgiveness, and He is waiting to restore your life.

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Complete Surrender

There was a Rich Mullins song that said, “Surrender don’t come natural to me. I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want than take what you give that I need.” That lyric has always stuck in my head because of how true it is. We like to say we surrender everything to God until He asks us to give up something. It’s almost like we’re the rich, young ruler. We don’t mind following the commandments He gives, but when we are asked to surrender things of earthly value, we get sad. The truth is that being a Christian is truly about surrender because it’s an action of the heart. It’s an inward thing versus the outward showing of following a bunch of rules.

Since the beginning of creation, God has been concerned with what’s going on inside of us. That’s the truth of who we are, and only He looks past our outward displays to see our intention. If we truly want to be a follower of Christ, it starts with surrendering authority over our life to Him. We give up our rights to what He wants. That’s the cost of being a disciple. If God asked you today to sell everything and give the money to the poor, what would you struggle selling? That’s the barrier between you and a more intimate relationship with Jesus. Surrender doesn’t come natural to us, but I believe it’s something we can all get a little better at.

Here are some Bible verses on surrender.

1. For all who belong to me now belong to you. And all who belong to you now belong to me as well, and my glory is revealed through their surrendered lives.

John 17:10 TPT

2. When you live a life of abandoned love, surrendered before the awe of God, here’s what you’ll experience: Abundant life. Continual protection. And complete satisfaction!

Proverbs 19:23 TPT

3. All who seek to live apart from me will lose it all. But those who let go of their lives for my sake and surrender it all to me will discover true life!

Matthew 10:39 TPT

4. Likewise, unless you surrender all to me, giving up all you possess, you cannot be one of my disciples.

Luke 14:33 TPT

5. (I use everyday language because of the weakness of your natural selves.) At one time you surrendered yourselves entirely as slaves to impurity and wickedness for wicked purposes. In the same way you must now surrender yourselves entirely as slaves of righteousness for holy purposes.

Romans 6:19 GNT

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The Faithfulness Of God

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

I’m not sure why I am constantly surprised by the goodness of God. There are times where I am just caught off guard at His faithfulness. I look at my life and I see all of my short comings and wonder why God would choose to bless me and to pour out His love on me. I know that I am unworthy of any gift that He gives, yet He still opens up the windows of Heaven and pours them out.

I think that’s one of the areas where it is hard to understand God because our minds try to rationalize Him as a human with human behaviors. We know the we are spiteful and hold grudges and we expect Him to. When He doesn’t, it blows our mind. I love how the psalmist put it in Psalm 36:5 when he said that His unfailing love is as vast as the heavens and His faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. It is so deep and so wide that we can’t begin to understand it.

I always want to rationalize it and understand it rather than to accept it and abide in it. I want to break it down and figure it out instead of just trusting in it. I think David understood it. He knew of the power that God has to forgive and forget. He relied on it and knew he was in trouble without it. You wonder how can an adulterer and murderer like David be a man after God’s own heart? Well it’s because he understood God’s ability to forgive and to forget.

It’s beyond me how God does it. I try to be a man after God’s heart and I fall short. I try to be like Him and I find I’m more like myself. I try to do what He asks and I end up doing what I want. I start off working hard to please Him, but in the end, I do what pleases me. That’s where God’s faithfulness kicks in. 2 Timothy 2:13 says in the Amplified version that even if we are unfaithful and untrue to Him, He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.

How is that possible? How can God remain faithful and true to us when all we seem to do is our own thing rather than His? It’s who God is. He is a God who loves us more than our doubts, our mistakes, our short comings and our fears. He is patient and kind. His love knows no end and is not conditional. He is not human and is not limited like we are. Once we remove those human characteristics of who we think He is and accept His divine nature, we can begin to get a glimpse of who He really is.

There were several in the Bible like David and Paul who got a glimpse of that. I don’t think it is reserved just for them though. God wants to open Himself up to you and me to give us a glimpse of who He is. We fight and push back because we think we are unworthy, but it’s when we finally realize how unworthy we really are that He has us right where He wants us so He can show His faithfulness and love. Don’t push back away from it. Swim in that river of his love that is as high as the clouds and is as vast as the heavens. Accept that you aren’t worthy and trust in His love for you anyway.

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Be Courageous

When I was a teenager, the scouting program I was a part of gave us a code to live by. Today, we would call them values statements or core values. One of the eight values was courageous: he is brave in spite of danger, criticism or threats. I didn’t realize then how important that particular one was as a teenager, and even more so as an adult. It taught me to be strong in the face of things when they weren’t going my way or even against me. Being courageous means you don’t run away in those moments. You do what’s right no matter what going on around you.

In the last several chapters of John, Jesus was talking to the disciples on the night before His crucifixion. He was telling them what was about to happen to Him, and also what would happen to them going forward. He wanted them to have peace in the chaos, and to let them know that He was going to send the Holy Spirit as a helper who would live inside of them to combat the outside pressures against them. Then, just before He prayed and went to the Garden of Gethsemane, He said, “For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33 TPT)

He reminded them, and us, that we are going to experience times when the world is against us. We are going to have troubles and things not go our way, but we are to be courageous. He said these things because He wanted us to look past our current problems knowing that He has already won. We can be brave because whatever we’re facing is not the end and it won’t conquer us because He is in us. We have to keep reminding ourselves of this verse when things look bad or like there’s no tomorrow. We can be courageous in spite of what we’re facing you trusting His promises.

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Peace In The Chaos

Do you ever get stressed out? When I do, it’s usually when I’m in a time crunch to get things done or when things are happening beyond my control. I used to get stressed out over many things and would let my mind run wild with all the possibilities of a situation. Then one day a friend noticed I was worked up and asked me, “Do you think this caught God by surprise or do you think He knew it would happen? If He knew it was going to happen then you don’t need to be worked up about it. Accept His peace, listen for His voice and let Him do in you what He wants to do.” Ever since then, when things start happening beyond my control, I remember those words and let His peace come in.

I’m reminded of when the disciples were in the boat and the storm blew in. There was chaos all around them, the boat was taking on water and they were considering abandoning ship. Jesus was asleep in the back while they were stressing out. When they finally went to Him, He spoke peace into the storm and it calmed down. Later, as Jesus was about to die on the cross, He was preparing them for the chaos and storm they were about to endure. In John 14:27 He said, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge]” (AMP).

Jesus knew we were going to have chaos in our lives and have challenging situations that would cause us to stress out. He commanded us to not let our minds run wild or to be afraid of the outcome. Instead, we are to remember that the one who spoke peace into the storm is not unaware of what you’re going through. Sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms us. Knowing He’s in control and is aware of what’s going on should give you peace. He’s continually working in our lives and that means there will be uncomfortable moments and challenges. Let His peace calm you in those times and give you strength for the challenge.

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