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.
Photo by James Peacock on Unsplash
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
Photo by Alex Woods on Unsplash
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.
Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash
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.
My three year old son surprised me the other day. We were sitting down talking and he wanted to get my attention so used both hands to grab my face to look at him. He said, “Joshua 1:9, Dada.” It took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about, but then I remembered it was his memory verse a few weeks back. I thought for a second how they had taught him, then I recited it to him, “Do not be afraid. God is with you.” He smiled and said, “Yeah. God is with you. Joshua 1:9.”
What a great promise to us to hold on to. The full verse says, “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” This was God speaking to Joshua before he entered a land of giants and walled cities that he was to conquer. It was 40 years earlier that he had been there as a spy and was outvoted 10-2 because the people were afraid of what they saw. I’m sure the ones who were scared told their kids what the Promised Land had in it. They might have been afraid of what their future held.
Like them, you may be looking at your future and are starting to feel scared. There are uncertainties, giants even huge walls up around the things you feel like God has called you to. When you look at those things, you may be wondering, “How can I accomplish that?” The path to it may be unclear. There may be huge obstacles in your way. But if God has called you to do it, there are no walls high enough that He can’t push down. There are no walls thick enough that He can’t break. There is no enemy strong enough to keep you away from all He has promised. He just needs you to step out in faith.
That’s the hard part. The scary part. When that fear arises, go back to Joshua 1:9. God commanded us to be strong and courageous. He didn’t merely suggest it. He told us not to be afraid or discouraged by the obstacles in our way because He is with us. He doesn’t expect us to do these things in our own strength or abilities. He will do the work as long as we are willing to cross the Jordan and enter the Land of Promise. Our step of faith pushes back fear and activates God’s strength. Don’t hold back because of fear. Go and conquer all that God has for you.
Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash
I read a news article about a 92 year old woman who was driving the wrong direction down the highway. A man noticed it and started trying to stop her. He drove past her on the right side of the highway to the next cross street. He then jumped out and tried to wave her down. He tried it again, but with no success. He then drove through the median grass until he was beside her and was able to stop her. She said she knew she was on the wrong side and was trying to get to the other side, but didn’t know how. The man who saved her said, “I knew something wasn’t right. If there was any way I could stop that, I was willing to do anything I could.”
As I saw that story, I couldn’t help but think of Jude 1:22 that says, “Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way” (MSG). This man reminded me of what God called us to do. We are to be on a Rescue Mission going after those going the wrong way towards Hell. The arrival mentioned how most people would have noticed the lady going the wrong way, but wouldn’t have done anything about it. This man stood out because he was willing to risk his life to save hers and others.
Saving others from going the wrong way isn’t just for pastors and missionaries. It’s all of our responsibility. We have to go through life understanding that we are God’s rescue plan for helping people who are going the wrong way. Are we willing to speak up? Are we willing to try to get their attention to let them know? Or are we content to let them drive down the wrong way? You don’t have to act crazy and flag people down, but you do have to love them. They may know they’re going the wrong way, but don’t know how to turn around or get to the other side. That’s where we come in, rescue them and point them to Jesus. Ask God to help you see those going the wrong way and to use you to rescue them.
Here’s a link to the article.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash