Monthly Archives: June 2019

Distressed

I can’t think of a single person in the Bible who didn’t go through distressful times. Adam and Eve went through the distress of sinning and hid from God. Moses went through it as he led the children of Israel through the desert. David spent years on the run. All the prophets I can think of had problems. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. On and on it goes. If you’re feeling distressed today, it’s ok. You’re not alone even though it feels like it when we’re going through those times. While your circumstances may be unique, the feelings you’re having have been felt by every person who has lived.

I’ve found that times of distress drive me to my knees. They cause me to cry out to God more than ever. In turn, they push me into a closer relationship with Him. I find that when we blame God for our problems, it has the opposite effect. I like to think of being distressed as having sandpaper smoothing out my rough edges. Yes it hurts while I’m going through it, but i know that in the end I’m going to be changed for the better through the process. God’s desire is to make you more and more into His image, but in order to do that, you must be shaped. Sometimes He uses distress to do that. If you’re distressed now, hold on. Things will get better and you will be better for it.

Here are some Bible verses about distress.

1. When the righteous cry [for help], the LORD hears And rescues them from all their distress and troubles.

PSALMS 34:17 AMP

2. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.

2 Corinthians 7:10 MSG

3. Are there any believers in your fellowship suffering great hardship and distress? Encourage them to pray! Are there happy, cheerful ones among you? Encourage them to sing out their praises!

James (Jacob) 5:13 TPT

4. Set me free from my distress; then in the assembly of your people I will praise you because of your goodness to me.

Psalm 142:7 GNT

5. But God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes.

Job 36:15 GNT

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Actionable Faith

In Luke 17, the disciples asked Jesus for more faith. I’ve fallen into that trap myself: believing I could have more or less faith and that my amount of faith determines God’s response. They felt like it was the amount of faith Jesus had that gave Him the ability to do the things He was doing. The response Jesus gave them in verse 6, proves it isn’t the amount of faith you have that motivates God.

Jesus said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it” (MSG). There isn’t a size of faith. Either you have faith or you don’t. If you have faith that God will do something, you will act on that faith. If you have faith, you can speak to things and they will move.

James tells us that faith without works is dead. He’s saying, if you really have faith, you will act on it. If you aren’t doing anything by faith, you have none. Either you have faith and prove it daily, or you have none and prove it too. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” He understood that you will always act according to what you believe. If you don’t believe God will answer, you won’t really pray. If you do, you will pray and show you believe it.

Faith isn’t about size, it’s about action. When the disciples asked for more faith, they got schooled by Jesus. When a man in Mark 9 asked Jesus if He could heal his boy, Jesus responded in verse 23 with, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” Our response should be like this man’s. He replied, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” You only need a greater faith than your doubts if you want to act on it. If your faith isn’t strong enough to act on, then ask God to help you with your doubts.

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Influencing Your City

Waco is a small town in Texas. It has always been a place you would only go to if you had a reason to go. It was showing its age until recently when Chip and Joanna Gaines show “Fixer Upper” became a hit. As this Christian couple began to update houses with their unique style, people began to want to visit Waco. Today, it’s a thriving town with people from all over taking vacation there. The city has been transformed by the influx of money coming into it. Buildings have been updated, businesses have moved in and home prices are on the rise. All of this happened because of one family.

The Bible tells us how cities, nations and even the world were impacted by God’s people. Jerusalem was in ruins until Nehemiah built the walls around the city. Wherever Joseph worked as a slave or prisoner, it prospered. Gideon took Israel from being the nation others picked on to being a strong nation. The list goes on and on of people who followed God and changed the culture around them. When you and I do walk in obedience to God’s voice, we can’t help but make an impact on the people around us.

Proverbs 11:11 says, “The blessing of favor resting upon the righteous influences a city to lift it higher” (TPT)”. When I read this verse, I can’t help but to be challenged to think if I’m making the impact in my city that I need to be. Each one of us as believers have the favor of God resting on us, but what are we doing with that favor? Are we being selfish with it or are we trying to impact the world around us? The Bible is clear that when we invest that favor in the lives of others, it’s multiplied. The blessings of God have been freely given to you so that you can use them to influence your city. When we leave our scarcity mentality and quit hoarding God’s blessings, we’ll change the culture of our communities, cities, states and nations.

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Light Seeds

In the beginning, after God created the heavens and the earth, the first thing He spoke into existence was light. That light pierced the darkness of the void that was there. It was the first thing because light is necessary for us to see and for life to begin. In fact, the light that is visible to our eyes is only a fraction of the light spectrum. It’s incredible to think that only a portion of what God spoke that day is visible to us. It’s even more incredible that those words are still creating light as the universe expands. When God speaks something into existence, it’s not just temporary and we can’t see the whole thing.

I love how John 1 starts out. “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (NLT). We know from reading more that the Word was Jesus. But if we keep going, He was more than the Word. Verses 4-5 say, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” As physical light gives light and pierced the darkness, Jesus does the same thing. He was sent here to give us that light and to make us the light of the world.

Psalm 97:11 says, “Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God’s people” (MSG). He has spoken light into your life and planted it deep within you. It’s up to you to cultivate those seeds of light and grow them so that your light is visible to others. It’s our responsibility to use that light to give life wherever we go and to pierce the darkness around us. The first thing that God spoke into existence has been planted in you through Jesus. It’s a great responsibility to have as well. What are you doing with those seeds? Are they laying dormant in you? Have they sprung up to illuminate your life and those around you? Are they reproducing? Are they increasing in their brightness? Let’s not waste the light seeds we’ve been given.

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Calming Anxious Thoughts

Have you ever seen a giant Sequoia tree? They are some of the tallest trees in the world. They’re also some of the fastest growing trees, especially when they’re young. They can grow up to six feet per year. Not only do they grow tall, they also grow wide. These are the trees that you’ve seen pictures of cars driving through them. Their root system is shallow though. It grows out instead of down. They don’t have a tap root. Instead they have thousands of tiny roots that multiply, grow out and around the tree and can cover up to an acre of land.

If you think about it, they’re a lot like our anxious thoughts. Those type of thoughts grow quickly in our mind, they take up a lot of space and infect almost every part of our life. The more we entertain those thoughts, the more they grow. Before you know it, you’ve given up a huge portion of your mind and your life to worrying about things that may or may not happen. Because these thoughts take up so much space, they require a lot to feed them. That’s why they infect every area of your mind as they multiply and grow. The good news is that their root systems are shallow and they can be uprooted.

Psalm 94:19 says, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comforts delight me” (AMP). Spending time in God’s Word, resting in His presence and worshiping Him are all ways you can uproot those anxious thoughts. Colossians 2:7 tell us to let our roots grow down deeply into God. When we do that, our lives won’t be uprooted by anxious thoughts because there is no room for them. When I start to get anxious about things, I have to remember to quit comparing things against my abilities. Instead, I feed myself on God’s Word and compare those same problems to God. I then realize He is greater than whatever I’m facing.

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The Promise Of Restoration

In the history of the world, there has only been one nation that has been forced out of their land, spread all over the world and then returned to being a nation again. On May 14, 1948, after nearly being exiled for 2,000 years, Israel became a nation once again returning to their land. Somehow they were able to maintain their culture and language throughout that long period. Upon returning, they began agricultural work. The people who were living in the land laughed at them. A hundred years earlier, Mark Twain passed through the land and described it as am uninhabitable, desolate wasteland. Today, it is an agricultural wonderland.

The prophesies of the Old Testament are being fulfilled to this day and are obvious as you drive through the country. The biggest has to be the return of the exiles. No matter how far you feel from God’s promises being fulfilled in your life, He can still make them happen. No matter how desolate your life appears at the moment, God can still create new growth in you. He specializes in doing the impossible and proves it every day. Though you may be separated from where you want to be, living in exile from your dreams, God can still bring you back into your Promised Land.

Here are some Bible verses about God’s promises of Israel being returned from exile.

1. If you and your descendants will turn back to the Lord and with all your heart obey his commands that I am giving you today, then the Lord your God will have mercy on you. He will bring you back from the nations where he has scattered you, and he will make you prosperous again. Even if you are scattered to the farthest corners of the earth, the Lord your God will gather you together and bring you back, so that you may again take possession of the land where your ancestors once lived. And he will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your ancestors ever were.

Deuteronomy 30:2-5 GNT

2. The exiles of Israel will return to their land and occupy the Phoenician coast as far north as Zarephath. The captives from Jerusalem exiled in the north will return home and resettle the towns of the Negev.

Obadiah 1:20 NLT

3. So fear no more, Jacob, dear servant. Don’t despair, Israel. Look up! I’ll save you out of faraway places, I’ll bring your children back from exile. Jacob will come back and find life good, safe and secure. I’ll be with you. I’ll save you.

Jeremiah 30:10 MSG

4. The Lord is restoring Jerusalem; he is bringing back the exiles.

Psalm 147:2 GNT

5. Also I shall bring back the exiles of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the deserted and ruined cities and inhabit them: They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit.

AMOS 9:14 AMP

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The Stone Carpenter

One of the things I learned in Nazareth, was that a carpenter in Jesus day meant more than someone who worked with wood. It was a person who worked with stone also. There wasn’t a different word for the two. It’s interesting to me because it changes how I think about Jesus versus how I thought of Him as just a woodworker. Knowing that Jesus could have been a stone worker as well, brings other verses to life that didn’t quite make as much sense before.

One of the first scriptures I thought of when I heard that was I Peter 2:5. It says, “And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (NLT). You and I are living stones that Jesus, the stone carpenter, shapes, molds, and builds with. No matter how hard our hearts might be, He can use His divine chisel to form us into who He needs us to be.

Another one I thought of was Matthew 16:18 that says, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” I’ve always thought of this verse as just Peter being the Rock, but when we think of what Peter said above, each one of us are the Rock with which Jesus builds His church. We are the ones also who the powers of hell will not conquer. We are stronger than we think and we have the power of God in us causing us to be able to withstand anything the enemy brings.

Go one more step with me. Mark 15:46 says, “Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance.” I don’t think it was coincidental that Jesus was buried in a rock. When we become Christians, we accept Jesus into our hearts. He fills the void inside of us just like He did that tomb.

The list could go on and on throughout the Bible. These are just a few examples I’ve thought of while sitting in Nazareth. Jesus was more than a wood carpenter, He was a stone carpenter. He’s a builder who uses what is available. No matter how little or much we think we have to offer, He can use it to build His Church because we carry His spirit inside of us. We are living stones because the One who lives forever, lives in us. We are His workmanship created to do good works, as Paul put it in Ephesians 2:10.

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