Monthly Archives: January 2022

Finding Peace In Problems

I remember growing up in church watching people equate hardships to being out of God’s will. There was a family that joined our church’s ministry staff, and they seemed to run into problem after problem. Their car broke down, their house had issues and so on. I remember standing in their living room hearing the father say, “We must have missed God. He’s trying to tell us this isn’t where we’re supposed to be. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having so many issues.” I was shocked. I thought they were a perfect fit for what we needed. They used Jonah as an example of why things were going badly. I could have bought it if they had gone the opposite of where they felt God calling them. I tried to explain that hardships and problems don’t mean you’re not in God’s will.

David was a person whom God had anointed to be king. He was in God’s will as he waited to ascend to the throne. He didn’t try to kill Saul and take it before God gave it to him. Yet, somehow, he was on the run for years. He fled Israel to get away. He had to pretend to be insane so the Philistine king wouldn’t kill him. He then ended up in the cave of Adullum. It was a dark time in his life. 1 Samuel 22:2 says, “Everyone who was suffering hardship, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. There were about four hundred men with him” (AMP). Instead of being sent angels or people to comfort him, God sent people who were going through the same thing. That’s not what he pictured when he thought of being king, but that’s what God had in mind to prepare him for the throne.

In that cave, David wrote Psalm 34. Verse 19 is one of my favorites in this chapter. It says, “Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, But the Lord rescues him from them all.” You and I are not promised sunshine and rainbows in God’s will. We’re going to face difficulties. We’re going to be in some dark caves so to speak. God doesn’t promise us a life without hardship and pain. Instead, He promises to rescue us from the cave and those problems. Also, the answer may not look like what you think it should. God knows where we are, what we’re facing and what we need. Cry out to Him, listen for His voice and follow where He leads. His will isn’t a place of perfect peace. It’s a place where we have peace no matter what we’re facing.

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The Place Of Preparation

The story of Joseph in Genesis is one of my favorites. As a late teenager, his brothers beat him up, threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery. The brothers told their dad that he was killed by wild animals. God was with Joseph through the trials he endured giving him favor with the people he met. Things were going well with Potiphar, but his wife wanted Joseph. When he refused her, she accused him of trying to rape her. Without a trial he was sent to prison for life. Many years later the pharaoh’s wine bearer and baker joined him in prison. For a long time, Joseph waited on them. They both had a dream one night, Joseph interpreted them and they came true. It was two more years before Joseph would be freed from prison and placed second in command to pharaoh.

After nearly twenty years since his brothers sold him, they traveled to Egypt looking for food. Joseph recognized them, but they didn’t recognize him. They were hungry and out of options. They begged Joseph for food, but we’re treated harshly by him. After accusing them of being spies Joseph put them in prison for three days. He released all but one as an incentive to get them to bring their other brother to Egypt. When Jacob found out, he was distraught. In Genesis 40:36 he said, “You have bereaved me [by causing the loss] of my children. Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin [from me]. All these things are [working] against me” (AMP).

Many times as God is working out His plan in our life, things appear to be working against you. For years nothing seemed to be going right for Joseph. For years Jacob grieved his son and then ran out of food. In those moments, the feelings of doubt, fear and that everything is against you are normal. In the case of Joseph and Jacob, they were in a place of preparation. We don’t see them curse God or even question Him. I’m sure they spent many sleepless night crying out to God wondering why. However silent God might have been, they stayed faithful in that place and God honored it. He honors our faithfulness as well. The place of preparation can be dark, lonely and hopeless, but while everything seems to be working against you, God is working things out for your good.

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Restoring What’s Broken

Because of sin, every one of us are born into this world with brokenness. It takes a different form in each of us, and the longer we live, the more brokenness we can experience. Different interactions and circumstances can cause that brokenness to spread and effect more parts of our lives. It began in the Garden of Eden, but so did the cure. God promised to restore our relationship with Him by sending us His only Son. Even though that’s primarily what we think of Him restoring, He’s capable of restoring so much more than our broken relationship with Him. He wants to restore every part of your life.

Here are some Bible verses on the things God can restore.

1. I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as you promised.

Psalms 119:107 NLT

2. But you, O Lord, are always my shield from danger; you give me victory and restore my courage.

Psalm 3:3 GNT

3. Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert.

Psalms 126:4 NLT

4. Restore joy to your loving servant once again, for all I am is yours, O God.

Psalms 86:4 TPT

5. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven.

James 5:15 GNT

This is a small sampling of things listed in the Bible that He restores. Ask Him to restore your broken places today.

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The Bread Of Life

Not long ago, I read the story of a fisherman who was forced to move because of a house fire. In the move, he asked his aunt to hold onto his good luck charm, which he had kept under his bed for over 10 years. He took her a 75 pound pearl that his boat anchor had caught on all those years ago. Each day, he would touch it before going fishing hoping it would bring him luck so he could catch a lot of fish. It turns out, as he’s struggled to make a living for the past ten years, he’s been sleeping over a $100,000,000 pearl! He had no clue what’s its value was as the world’s largest gem quality pearl.

That story reminds me of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6. There were hungry people and it was getting late. The disciples asked if they should spend 200 silver coins to buy food for everyone. That’s when, in verse 38, Jesus asked them, “How much bread do you have?” (GNT) They went to check and came back to tell Him, “Five loaves.” Jesus then had them seat everyone. He broke the bread and the two fish they had, fed all 5,000 men (plus women and children), then took up 12 baskets of leftovers.

When Jesus asked how much bread they had, they had already seen Him heal the blind, raise the dead, cure leprosy, and so much more. In fact, they had just returned from being sent out to the towns and villages performing miracles themselves. They knew the power of God was with Jesus and had flowed through them, but it never crossed their mind to ask for a miracle for a crowd. Until this time, with the exception of the wine in Cana, most miracles had been for individuals. But to me, the question of how much bread they had was Jesus testing them.

They had more than five loaves. They had the Bread of Life with them and not one of them thought to include Him in the number of loaves of bread. Whenever you add Jesus to whatever you have, you will always have more than enough. We can’t stay in the same mindset they had. We can’t look at physical problems expecting spiritual results unless we are willing to add in the Bread of Life to the equation. We can’t see through blocked roads, huge obstacles, or insurmountable odds because we’ve been keeping Jesus under our bed as a good luck charm. He’s worth more than $100,000,000. He’s the answer to your struggles. Give what you have to Him and watch Him multiply it.

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

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Trust God Anyway

To me, one of the worst feelings in the world is the feeling of being helpless. When everything seems to be going against me and there’s nothing I can do to stop it, there’s a sense of fear and desperation. In those times, all my efforts to help myself, or to get myself out of it, are fruitless. Many times when that happens, the harder I try to get out of the situation, the worse it gets. It’s that feeling where you’re stuck in the mud and the more you push the gas, the worse you get stuck. My feelings and thoughts quickly turn negative, and if I’m not careful, those feelings and thoughts can dictate my actions. We all face times like these, even the heroes of the faith who are in the Bible.

David often found himself in desperation. You can see how his thinking affected him and his actions. In Psalm 28, he’s going through a helpless situation. In verse 1 he prays, “I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die” (NLT). At this point, he’s not even sure God is going to come help. His fear is causing him to doubt just like our fear does to us. If we trust our feelings over our faith, life can feel a roller coaster. Emotions were given to us to help us gauge a situation. They were meant to be what we trust in. They often lie and manipulate us. We must learn to trust God over our emotions and over how they’re making us feel about our situation.

In verse 7, David moves his trust his emotions to God. He reminds himself, “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” When we switch where we place our trust, our emotions follow. We need to trust God with all of our heart instead of our emotions. He sees what you’re going through, and He will not abandon you in it. He doesn’t always remove us from the situation or give us the answer we’re hoping for. The question is, will you trust Him anyway? Will you have faith that whatever it is, He can turn it for your good? It’s not easy to do. However, where you place your trust will determine how well you come through it.

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Following God’s Plan

One of the things that bothers me is when someone asks me for advice on how to handle something, and then they don’t take the advice. I’ve shown them what to do, but they either didn’t want to do the work, like the things I told them or had someone else tell them something different to do. Either way, when they’re still stuck in the situation and come back for help, my mind wants to turn them away. However, somewhere in the exchange, my compassion overrides my pride and I try to direct them to the right path out of their situation. A lot of times they didn’t get in the situation overnight, and they’re not going to get out of it overnight, no matter how badly they want to.

I find myself doing the same thing to God though. I run to Him with my problem or circumstance i want out of. He directs me to His Word, but i don’t always like the prescription. Instead of listening, i try other things, other ideas or anything besides what His path out of it is. It’s amazing how many times we all go to God with a problem, sometimes of our own doing, seek His path out of it, and then tell Him what we’re going to do. What we’re really saying is, “God, i know you have a plan for me, but i want to do it this way. Will you please bless it and let me do this my way?” How can we expect God’s blessings when we’re telling Him what we’re going to do instead of seeking His plan and path?

David, who was known as a man after God’s own heart didn’t approach God that way. In Psalms 25:4 he prayed, “Direct me, Yahweh, throughout my journey so I can experience your plans for my life. Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to you” (TPT). If we want to experience all the blessings God has for us, we’re going to have to submit to His plan and walk on His path. God has no problem revealing His plan and path for how our lives should go. It’s up to us to obey and to stay on that path. When we get off of it is when we experience a lot of pain. Staying on God’s path doesn’t mean you’re not going to experience hardship, pain or set backs. It means you’ll have His blessings, guidance and protection through them. He has a plan and a path for you, but it’s up to you to stay on it and follow it.

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Accumulating Prayers

I heard a friend of mine say, “Our prayers don’t evaporate, they accumulate.” I loved it the moment I heard it, but my mind went to a negative place. I started thinking of all the prayers I’ve given up on before they’ve really accumulated. I’ve prayed for some things in my life where after a week or so I’ve thought, “Well, it must not be in God’s will,” and I’ve quit praying for it. I’ve had other times where I’ve prayed for something a few times and then prayed, “God, I’ve asked for this several times now. I don’t know why you haven’t answered, but I’m tired of asking. You know what i need. Answer when you’re ready. I’m done asking.” Those prayers didn’t accumulate much in Heaven, and i could have used an attitude adjustment.

In Genesis 32, Jacob was headed back to the Promised Land. The night before he was going to face his twin that he had wronged, God Himself came down to meet him and they wrestled. All night long they fought. When God saw that He couldn’t get free of Jacob, He told him to let Him go. But Jacob answered, “I will not let go unless You declare a blessing on me” (verse 26 GNT). God then blessed him and changed his name to Israel because he struggled with God and prevailed. The attitude he had with God that night is the same we’re to have with Him when it comes to praying for things. Don’t let go until He answers.

In Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus told us, “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened” (AMP). I believe many times our prayers go unanswered is because we haven’t wrestled with God over them to the point we won’t let go until He does. They’re not answered because we quit asking and quit accumulating them for this situation. Whatever you’re needing God to do for you, keep asking, seeking and knocking until God answers. It may take years of wrestling with God over it, but don’t give up and don’t let go.

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You Belong To Christ

When I was younger, people at church would often quote 1 Corinthians 6:19 to me and others. It says, “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God” (GNT). You don’t hear many people quoting this one these days, but it’s still true and should guide our decisions. When you gave your heart to Christ, you surrendered your rights to your life and your body. You were purchased at a high cost. It’s time to quit living and thinking of yourself as clearance goods. Also, because you now belong to Christ, you are entitled to many promises.

Here are some Bible verses on the promises of belonging to Christ.

1. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

2. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1 NLT

3. May peace be with all of you who belong to Christ.

1 Peter 5:14 GNT

4. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

1 Corinthians 15:22 NLT

5. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Romans 8:2 NLT

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Joy Returns

Lamentations 4 and 5 are two of the saddest chapters in the Bible. Jeremiah was so descriptive of what life was like living under the control of their enemy. The people who were once wealthy were digging through the trash to find food. The kids were forced to do manual labor that was too hard for them. Anyone caught looking for food outside the city walls was killed. Confidence was replaced with desperation, and joy was replaced with a deep depression.

People no longer gathered to talk. No one sang any songs. The population was dwindling down because people were dying of starvation. It was a very dark period in Israel’s history. Jeremiah knew they were living under the enemy’s control because they had turned their back on God. He cried out in repentance and asked God how long would they suffer. Then he remembered that suffering is temporary, but God is eternal.

You may be going through a dark time in your life right now as well. It may feel like God has abandoned you and that you are living under the enemy’s control. I know what it’s like to live through that. I know what it feels like to lose everything and wonder if you should still try to keep going. I can let you know that the suffering is only temporary. It does end and the sun comes out again. God has not abandoned you no matter how alone you feel.

I pray Jeremiah’s prayer in Lamentations 5:21 over you today. It says, “Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!” (NLT) I’m living proof that God restores what the enemy stole, and that joy returns. When God restores you, He will rebuild everything better than it was. When He gives your joy back, it will be greater than before. What feels like forever is only a season. Restoration is coming.

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

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Becoming Heirs

Not long ago, we visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. It is America’s largest home at over 178,000 square feet and sits on 8,000 acres. We took the tour to learn all about its construction and owner. George Washington Vanderbilt was the man who had it built. He was the youngest of three sons whose father inherited the Vanderbilt fortune. George’s father inherited 100 million dollars and turned it into 200 million before he died. George’s two brothers inherited the bulk of the money. With part of his inheritance, he built this magnificent home that still belongs to the family.

The Bible talks a lot about first born children and inheritances. The first born received a double portion since they were to care for the estate and father’s wife. Abraham blessed Isaac and left him the double portion. Jacob tricked Esau into giving him the first born inheritance and then stole the blessing too. As generations went on, they referred to themselves as heirs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That carried over into New Testament times as well. The people identified as heirs of Abraham, but Jesus wanted to change that so that we would become heirs of God through Him.

Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit Himself testifies and confirms together with our spirit [assuring us] that we [believers] are children of God. And if [we are His] children, [then we are His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory” (AMP). Just like George Vanderbilt, you and I are heirs to an incredible inheritance. When we accept Christ, we go from death to life and become royalty in the Kingdom of God. It’s time you and I began to see ourselves in this light and live like sons and daughters of the King. You’ve received spiritual blessings and will inherit all He has.

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