Tag Archives: bible study
The story of Joseph always intrigues me. God gave him a dream that one day his parents and his brothers would all bow down to him. His brothers became so jealous that they kidnapped him and sold him as a slave. From there he was sold to a man in Egypt. After working there for a while, he was falsely accused and sent to prison. He spent years in prison and was forgotten. Not once in this story do we hear him complaining to God, “What about the dream you gave me?” He went through a drought figuratively and literally. So how does one hold onto faith and trust in God when nothing seems to be moving or is going in the wrong direction?
Honestly, that’s a question I think about a lot because God’s plan will often lead us through a drought. We hear His voice, follow His path and then nothing happens. It can definitely get you to questioning if you’ve heard God, if you’re headed the right direction and if God is going to come through in time. I’m a believer that great faith gets rewarded greatly, but I’ve also learned that great faith goes through droughts after you’ve acted. Just because you’ve taken the leap, it doesn’t mean that God makes everything happen right away. For your faith to be stretched, you’re going to go through some, “What have I done and where are you God” moments. So how do you hang on in those times?
Jeremiah 17:7-8 gives us the answer. It says, “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit” (NLT). You stay planted in your faith with your roots down deep in God’s Word. When we do that, it doesn’t matter what our external circumstances look like. Our faith is being watered and we can hold onto our trust in God. It’s not easy by any means, but when we keep our spirit fed and watered, we will still produce no matter how long the drought is. Remember that droughts end and God is faithful to His promise.
One of the first stories in the Bible that you’re taught as a kid is Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego In the fiery furnace. The king had built a statue that was 90 feet tall and expected everyone to bow to it on command. These three men were in high government positions because their friend, and fellow captive, Daniel had been able to tell the king what his dream was and meant. When they didn’t bow, it was obvious because they were in the public eye. The king demanded they bow, but they refused to his face. They would rather honor God and suffer the consequences of death than to dishonor God and live. The king heated the furnace even hotter than normal and had them thrown into it. That’s when he noticed there were four men walking around in it. In Daniel 3:25, the king said, “Look! I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” (NLT)
One the first things they noticed was that the three were unbound. I think that’s important because they would have tied them up with something that wasn’t combustible. There are times in life that we go through things that we feel like we’re bound by. It feels like we will never get free and the chains hinder our progress. Even when nothing else seems to be able to set you free, God can. These gentlemen could not set themselves free by their own power, and neither can we. It takes trusting in God and putting ourselves in His hands to find freedom from the things that bind us. One word from Him and the things that have bound you for years will fall. Your freedom is in Him.
The next thing they noticed is that there was a fourth guy in the fire. I’ve noticed that when we walk through the fiery trials of life, they reveal Jesus. You are not walking through your difficult times alone. He’s always with you, but we see Him more clearly in those moments. He shows up and walks through those times with you. No matter how bad things seem, keep moving and praying. The three Hebrew men didn’t sit down in the fire and wait to be called out. They were actively moving and it caught the attention of others. You’re ability to not quit during the most fiery trial will inspire others who will go through those times in the future. Your most difficult times become your greatest testimony. Don’t quit. God is up to something and is right there with you in those moments.
Think back to when you were in school. How often did you ask the teacher to give you a test? If you were like most kids, that would be never. Kids hate tests. You never knew if you were studying the right thing. You didn’t know how hard the test would be either. The question was always, “What is the minimum effort I need to exert on studying in order to pass this test?” When you didn’t study or prepare for the test, your grade reflected it too. Why? Because tests are designed to challenge you and to cement knowledge in your brain. They tell your brain, this is important. Put it in long term memory versus short term.
Tests are actually a good thing. If you have studied and are prepared, then they’re not going to stress you out. There are several verses in the Bible where people asked God to test them. Their lives were constantly ready for any test God might give them in order to cement their faith. Those tests proved what they knew, but they also exposed blind spots and weaknesses. You might not think so, but that’s a good thing. If we know where and what those are, we can guard them or seek the Holy Spirit’s help in those areas. If we’re going to keep drawing closer to God, we need to be asking for tests.
Here are some Bible verses on asking for tests.
1. Lord, you can scrutinize me. Refine my heart and probe my every thought. Put me to the test and you’ll find it’s true.
Psalms 26:2 TPT
2. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, you test those who are righteous, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets.
Jeremiah 20:12 NLT
3. Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
PSALMS 139:23-24 AMP
4. Then I said, “GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies, you’re a fair judge. You examine and cross-examine human actions and motives. I want to see these people shown up and put down! I’m an open book before you. Clear my name.”
Jeremiah 11:20 MSG
5. You have put us to the test, God; as silver is purified by fire, so you have tested us.
Psalm 66:10 GNT
This year, I’ve had both a family member and a coworker get diagnosed with breast cancer. Their stories of sitting in the doctor’s office and hearing the news were very similar. They described getting tunnel vision. Sound seemed to go away. Fear immediately brought tears as it showed them a world where their child would grow up motherless. Then both immediately asked for prayer from those who know God.
One shared with me how after prayer they had clarity of how to fight, and they were no longer reeling from the news. The other shared with me about the peace that came over her. She said, “After people started praying, I haven’t been able to shed a tear. This peace won’t let me.” Both received news that no one ever wants to get, but both knew where to turn when they got it. While they still have treatments to go through, knowing God is in control has made the difference.
In Psalm 112, the writer discusses the blessings of the man (or woman) who fears the Lord with reverence and worships Him with obedience. Each verse pronounces blessings or discusses the outcome for such people. In verses 7-8, it says, “They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly” (NLT). This verse perfectly describes what both of these women shared with me.
This verse doesn’t just apply to cancer though. It applies to any bad news that may come your way. You don’t have to fear the outcome when you get it. Just like these ladies, you can give the news to God through prayer, and His peace, which passes all understanding, will guard your thoughts. Fear does not come from God, but peace does. Whatever you’re facing today, you can face it with confidence because you are a child of the King of Kings. He is in control, and will work out His plan for you.
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.
Some verses in the Bible have so much packed into them that you just have to stop and chew on them for a while. Zephaniah 3:17 is one of those verses. It says, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (NLT). Think about that verse for a minute. Some versions say, “God is present with you” (MSG) or “God is with you” (GNT). No matter what version, it’s important to know that wherever you go, whatever you do, God is there, present with you in each situation. We just need to learn to be more aware of His presence in our day.
From John 3:16, we know that God loves us. We’re taught that as a kid, but do you ever stop to think that more than that, God likes you too? He really does. He takes delight in us with gladness it says. He sees the deep, dark places of our heart that we keep hidden, and He still likes us and wants to be around us. So many of us keep those parts hidden from others because we think, “If they knew this about me, they wouldn’t like me.” God knows you and I are broken and have sin nature lurking inside. He wants to bring healing to those places, and calm our fears about them. Fear does not come from Him. It comes from not understanding who we are in Him and who He wants to be in our lives.
This verse then ends with a bang! God rejoices over you and sings joyful songs over you. Psalm 32:7 says that the songs God sings are to deliver us and to bring us victory. Just like a parent sings songs to their kids, God sings to us. He knows that wherever we go or whatever we do, we need His comfort, His protection and His victory. Today, God is present with you, He is might enough to save you from whatever you’re facing, He wants to be around you, He will calm your fears and be singing over you. To me, that means today, and every day has the potential to be a great day. We just need to keep this verse in mind so we can understand how God sees us and know who we are to Him.