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Indestructible Faith

Growing up, I was hard on shoes. No matter what shoes my parents bought, they would be falling apart within a couple of months. It didn’t matter if we purchased expensive shoes or cheap ones, they just couldn’t hold together. Then one day I heard about Nike Ndestrukt shoes. They weren’t that good looking, but they were built to withstand whatever you threw at them. For the first time in my life, I had a pair of shoes that were able to hold up under the toughest conditions. They got stained, beat up and worn out, but they never fell apart. They are a great example of how our faith needs to be.

Life is hard, and it’s even harder on our faith. If our faith isn’t strong enough, it can fall apart under the tough conditions we face. If we’re going to have indestructible faith that endures, it’s going to have to start with a mindset that says, “God, I’m going to trust you no matter what comes my way.” If your faith is built on anything less, it will waiver when times get tough. Faith is easy to have when things are going well. It’s when you can’t feel God’s presence in the struggle that you really find out how strong it is. When you’ve made up your mind to trust no matter what, you can be like Job and worship God even in the toughest conditions. It may be bruised, stained and worn out, but a faith that endures is what we all need.

Here are some Bible verses on having an enduring faith.

1. If your faith is not enduring, you will not endure.

Isaiah 7:9 GNT

2. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

3. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “You need to be alert and pray for the strength to endure the great temptation.”

Luke 22:46 TPT

4. But as for you, be clear-headed in every situation [stay calm and cool and steady], endure every hardship [without flinching], do the work of an evangelist, fulfill [the duties of] your ministry.

2 TIMOTHY 4:5 AMP

5. For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things.

James (Jacob) 1:3 TPT

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Miracles In The Wilderness

There were two instances where Jesus wanted to feed a large crowd. One was a crowd of 5,000 and the other was of 4,000. In both instances, they were away from the city with nowhere to buy food. In Mark 8, we find the story of the 4,000 people who were following Jesus and it says they ran out of food. Jesus had compassion on them and indicated he wanted to feed the mass of people. The disciples were incredulous and asked, “How are we supposed to find enough food to feed them out here in the wilderness?” (NLT)

They knew that Jesus was looking to them to feed the people. I’m sure the “we” in that sentence had some inflection in it indicating they thought He should be the one finding the food. He was the Son of God after all. But Jesus didn’t waiver. He stayed true to who He has been since the beginning of time. He looked to them for an act of faith. He wanted them to be the ones who looked at an impossible situation and to offer Him something to multiply. If you remember your multiplication tables, anything multiplied by zero is zero.

When their faith saw only the impossibility, He threw them a hint. In verse 5 Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?” He was looking for them to trust Him with their own bread so He could do what only He could do. He wanted them to see He could perform miracles in the wilderness. He didn’t have to be in a lush environment or around a lot of people in a city. He just needed to be by a few people with enough faith to trust Him with what they had.

You may be in a wilderness right now wondering what God is doing. You may look around you and think you don’t have anything to offer God to take care of the mass of problems in your life. I believe God would say to you what He said to them, “How much bread do you have?” What is your bread that God could multiply? What is it that you can offer Him in the wilderness that you need Him to multiply? If your faith can’t see what your bread is, ask God to point it out to you like He did with the disciples. When you put it in His hands, He’ll perform miracles in your wilderness.

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A Change Of Heart

My pastor said something that really resonated with me. He said, “In the history of the world, church has never been done better than it is today, yet never have we had such little impact on our culture.” It has me thinking, “Are we focused on the right things corporately and individually?” What are we concerned with? Is the music too loud? Is there too much fog in the sanctuary? Is it too cold? Are we concerned more with our entertainment than reaching the lost? Are we too focused on our comfort and not enough on the lost? Do we spend our time talking about God rather than to Him? I don’t know, but I know that if our ability to impact the culture around us is going to improve, it has to start with us as individuals.

After Jonah preached to the city of Nineveh, he went outside of the city, sat down and waited to see what would happen. Even though he had obeyed God, in his heart, he still wished that God would destroy the city. To expose his heart, God caused a plant to grow up and provide him with shade. The next day, the Lord sent a worm to eat the plant. Jonah was mad enough to want to die over it. God responded in Jonah 4:10-11, “This plant grew up in one night and disappeared the next; you didn’t do anything for it and you didn’t make it grow—yet you feel sorry for it! How much more, then, should I have pity on Nineveh, that great city. After all, it has more than 120,000 innocent children in it, as well as many animals!” (GNT)

God is concerned with people and their salvation. Scripture says that it’s His kindness that draws us to repentance (Romans 2:4). We need to pray what Bob Pierce prayed, “God, break our heart for the things that break yours.” Jonah was more concerned for his comfort than 120,000 people dying. That’s a recipe for not having an impact on culture. God was able to move then, and He’s able to move now despite our heart. It’s much better though when our heart is aligned with His. I wonder if the story of Jonah ends abruptly right there so we don’t miss that point. As Jonah pointed out in verse 2, God is loving and merciful, always patient and kind, ready to change His mind and not punish people. Shouldn’t we be the same way?

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Surrendering

Having been raised in church, there’s a time in my life I like to refer to as halftime. It’s a period where I chose to quit making my life about God and decided to make choices that were selfish. I lived the opposite way of what I knew to be right. It wasn’t long before God started trying to get my attention. Things in my life started to go wrong. I was losing the blessings God had given me. Stubbornly, I kept going in the direction I was headed ignoring God’s attempts to get my attention. Finally, things started getting so bad that I had no choice, but to surrender. I laid down on my living room floor one night and prayed, “God, I give up. I can’t do this any more.” The storm stopped, but I still had to live with the consequences of that period in my life.

As I read through the book of Jonah, I see some similarities. He was a God fearing man who lived the way he was supposed to. When God asked him to preach, he ran from his calling. While he was going the opposite direction in a boat, God sent a great storm to get his attention, but he ignored it. The Bible says that he was sleeping in the boat when the others had to wake him. As the storm worsened, he knew the only choice was surrender. Jonah 1:15-16 says, “Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him” (NLT).

Even when you’ve made choices to run from God, He can use it for good. These sailors would never have given their lives to the Lord if Jonah wouldn’t have run away. They saw a powerful God who would stop at nothing until one of His lost sheep surrendered and came back into the fold. If you’ve been running from God, don’t wait until the storm gets so bad that you lose everything before you surrender. If run away, but you’ve already surrendered, get rid of the condemnation. God can use that period in your life for good, plus He can still use you for His purposes. Jonah led an entire city to God after he had run away. Your choices in the past haven’t negated God’s calling on your life. It’s time to move past your mistakes and start moving towards your calling.

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Seeking Godly Guidance

When you’re in over your head, who do you seek guidance from? I’ve made a few of these calls, and I get a few of these calls from time to time. Each time I’m talking with someone who is asking for guidance, I immediately start praying, “God, give me wisdom. Give me the right words that will help them make the right choices. Give them the courage to make the hard choices necessary. Amen.” I know that my wisdom is flawed, but God’s wisdom is perfect. He sees the whole picture and knows what they need to do. Too often we seek His guidance, or other godly guidance late in our journey rather than at the beginning.

In the books of Chronicles and Kings, you can read about many of the early kings of Israel and Judah. In almost every case, the writer quickly tells you whether they were a godly King or whether they did things that were evil in God’s sight. There were a couple Kings who took the throne when they were kids. In at least two of the cases, they were heavily influenced by godly people. They were taught and encouraged to lead with godly principles. They also continued to seek God’s will and direction for their nation as they ruled. Because they followed God’s plan, they prospered during their reign.

2 Chronicles 26:5 says, “And as long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success” (NLT). That’s an important lesson for us to learn. If you and I will seek God’s guidance and wisdom, He will give us success in the things we do. God loves to give us wisdom, but it’s our choice whether to follow it or not. The path God gives is rarely the easy path and requires us to make tough decisions. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to us, but remember, He’s not looking at what you see now. He’s looking ahead to the parts of the road you can’t see. The guidance He gives is based on His plan for you, and we know He has good plans for each of us. No matter where you are in your journey, there’s still time to start seeking God’s guidance.

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Persistent In Prayer

One of the questions I like to ask people is, “What’s a trait that makes you successful?” I hear all kinds of answers from this question, but one that always stands out is persistence. Some of the most successful people I know are also some of the most persistent people I know. They keep going and pushing when others have given up. They know that if they give a little more effort, try a little longer or stick with it longer than anyone else, they’ll get what they’re after. They’re the epitome of dictionary.com’s definition of persistent: continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

The same principle holds true for those who are persistent in prayer. I know people who have prayed daily for decades for their spouse or child, and I’ve watched those prayers answered. It’s nice when God answers a prayer the first time we pray it, but more often than not, God answers persistent prayers. Are you willing to pray for what you need for decades? That to me is persistence. It’s obstinately holding on to God’s promise and your faith that He will answer as long as you keep knocking. If you’re still waiting for God to answer, then keep praying. God hears your prayer the first time you pray it, but there are things moving in the spiritual realm that require you to remain persistent in your prayers to get your answer. Don’t quit now.

Here are some Bible verses on being persistent in prayer.

1. Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].

JAMES 5:16 AMP

2. Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-17 AMP

3. Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.

COLOSSIANS 4:2 AMP

4. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.

Matthew 7:8 TPT

5. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Ephesians 6:18 NLT

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God Is Standing With You

There are times in life when we take a stand for what’s right only to find out we’re the only ones standing. In those moments, you wonder why no one else is standing with you. I’ve done it before and had people private message me that they were with me. I asked why they weren’t standing with me. They said they were too afraid to stand up too, but wanted me to know I had their support. I wanted their public support instead because standing there alone was tough. I knew what I was standing for was right, so I kept standing.

There are other times when we come under attack. We’re standing on the battlefield of life, and the hits won’t stop coming. We wonder when it will let up and if we should just give up the fight. We need someone to come stand with us because we feel all alone out there in the struggle. We may lose our strength to fight back, but we still stand in the face of relentless attacks. In each case, we feel all alone, but the truth is we are not. Whether we stand for what’s right or we are under attack from the enemy, God is standing with us.

Psalm 59:10 says, “In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me” (NLT). God’s love never fails us, nor does it ever leave us standing alone. I once heard someone say, “Me plus God equals a majority.” We need to let that sink into our spirits. We are not standing alone in those moments. Our physical eyes tell us we are alone, but we need to learn to see our situations with our spiritual eyes.

I love how in 2 Kings 6, Elisha’s servant looked outside and saw the whole army encamped around them. He panicked and asked Elisha what they were going to do since they were out numbered. Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid. There are more on our side than theirs.” The servant thought they were standing alone, but God was standing with them with a full army that surrounded the other army. That’s how it is for us. When we stand for what’s right or we are standing in our battles, there are more with us than we see with our physical eyes because God stands with us.

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Throwback Thursday is a 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.

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