Tag Archives: difficult times

Your Firm Foundation

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus told the people that people who listen to what He says and applies it is like a wise person who builds their house on a firm and unshakable foundation. Then He said that those who hear His words and doesn’t apply them is like a foolish person who built their house on sand instead of a foundation. When the storms of life come, and it rains day after day, one of those houses will collapse and the other will stand strong no matter what comes against it. Hearing what Jesus says is important, that’s where faith comes from, but it’s not enough. We must apply the godly principles to our lives if we want the blessings that they produce. You can’t get the foundation He was talking about unless you do something with His teachings.

In today’s world, we are watching the rain come down day after day. The wind is blowing against everyone’s houses. Financial markets are crashing across the world. Education systems are under stress trying to figure out how to respond in this time of crisis. Governments across the world are scrambling trying to protect their people and keep their country afloat. The flood waters are rising and the houses that have been built on the sand are crashing down. Fear and panic have taken over the world as people watch what they’ve built get destroyed. Believers are no different. The things they have built are being affected by the storm and floods too, but there is a difference. We have a firm foundation that will remain no matter what comes.

Proverbs 10:25 says, “When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation” (NLT). There is no need to fear or panic as a person who has applied God’s Word to their life. He is still in control and He is still your source. He is your Jehovah Jireh, your provider. No matter how high the waters rise or how long the storm lasts, the godly, the ones who have built their lives on applying God’s Word, have a lasting foundation that is unshakable. You have an anchor of hope that will not let you be moved in this time. Hold onto your faith. Hold onto the promises of God. Rest on your foundation that He has given you. He will be true to His Word. Even Job lost everything, but he held onto his foundation and was able to worship in the storm.

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Comfort In The Chaos

To me, one of the most comforting promises of God is found in the first two verses of Isaiah 43. God says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you” (GNT). I can know that whatever mountain I’m facing, trial I’m going through, or difficulty I’m having, God will not let me go through it alone.

This verse reminds me to get rid of fear first. Fear takes my eyes off of my savior and puts them on my problems. Fear makes my problems appear to be bigger than God. It can cripple me and prevent my progress in the middle of a trial I’m called to walk through. It makes me want to give up because the struggle is so difficult. But God does not give me a spirit of fear. He gives me a spirit of power and a sound mind so I can advance through whatever I face.

The next part reminds me that I’m His child. When my own child gets in danger, the first thing I do is shout his name to get his attention. God does that to us. In the midst of our chaos, God calls our name to get us to look to Him. When we’re facing uncertainty and feel like we’re drowning in sorrow, it’s His voice we need to listen for. He reminds us that we are His, and He will not leave us nor abandon us in our times of desperate need.

When I feel like I’m overwhelmed and I can’t seem to find the light of day, I have the promise that God is with me. He is the rock that’s higher than I am when those floods come in and wash me down stream. When everything I’m standing on appears to be sinking sand, He is the rock of my foundation. I know that my life is built on Him, and even though everything else seems to be lost, I can trust that my foundation is sure.

Finally, I can rest knowing that my trials will not hurt me in the long run. I know that God works in all things for my good. Set backs, unanswered prayers, times of darkness in my life, and fiery trials all make me stronger and purify my faith. When I feel like giving up, I remember that there’s no fire great enough to burn me when God is with me. I know He leads me by still waters while protecting me with His rod and staff. I can find comfort in the chaos because He sees me, knows me, and walks through fire with me.

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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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Purposeful Preparation

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I don’t know if you ever played sports or not, but if you did, you had a coach. Some coaches are there to help you have a good time, others are there to teach you the basics and others help you elevate your game. Those coaches demand a lot out of you, and sometimes get in your face and yell at you when you’re not giving it your all. They’re so hard on you at times that you feel like quitting, but at the same time you know that would disappoint them, and you definitely don’t want to do that. Their discipline and training cause you to respect them and make you want todo more. In the end, you’re a better player because they pushed you beyond what you saw in your abilities. Those coaches you remember for life.

Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of his faithful love. And when he draws you to himself, it proves you are his delightful child” (TPT). God is always training us and preparing us for our future. You might go through an intense training at 35 to prepare you for an intense battle at 50. His training conditions our mind and spirit to be ready for those times in our life. At times it seems harsh and you feel like quitting, but God encourages us through these times because He loves us. He draws more out of us and gives us the strength to endure more than we ever thought we could because His grace is sufficient for whatever you go through.

The deeper your pain or the harder your struggle is will give you greater insight into who God is because you get to experience the depth of His grace and character more. You may hit rock bottom in life, but you will never hit rock bottom of His grace. Your times of training and difficulties only prove how strong His grip on you is and how deeply He loves you. His training grounds and discipline are designed to teach you how to dig deeper in your faith so that when the really hard times come, you have an anchor of hope in Him. Instead of being driven away by the struggles, you stay firm in your faith and your relationship grows. God understands what we need in our training in order to take us to places and victories we would otherwise never know. Keep trusting Him. You are His child whom He loves and He’s drawing you closer to Himself.

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Jesus Revealed

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If you’ve followed my devotions for a while, you know that there was a period in my life of nearly a year where the bottom kept failing out from underneath me. Some of it was due to my own failures and sins, and other parts just felt like everything was piling on top of me. During that period, God course corrected my life. He also brought people into my life who would speak to me for Him since I was unable or unwilling to hear Him. By the time the storm ended, I knew more about God than I ever had, and I had been in church every time the doors were open since I had been born. I found the depth of His grace was deeper than my sin, the joy He could give me was greater than any pain I had experienced and His strength was more than enough in my weakness.

In Luke 8, Jesus was traveling all over Israel with His message. He had already been baptized with God audibly speaking for all to hear. He had raised a dead boy to life and healed countless sick people. The disciples had caught a boat load of fish by casting their net on the other side and had been following Him everywhere He went. So when He told them to get in the boat to travel to the other side, they didn’t think anything of it, at least until the storm came. They panicked and did all they could to keep the boat upright. Finally someone noticed Jesus was missing. They found Him sleeping in the hull, woke Him up and asked if even cared that they were about to die. He got up, rebuked the wind and the storm stopped. Luke 8:25 says, “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you fearful? Have you lost your faith in me?’ Shocked and shaken, they said with amazement to one another, ‘Who is this man who has authority over winds and waves that they obey him?’” (TPT)

We can look in disdain at the disciples for doubting who Jesus is. It’s easy for us to do as we sit in a dry house and read the story, but I believe there’s something in their question for us. When God takes you through a storm, He reveals more of who He is to us. The disciples didn’t blame Him for the storm. They went to Him for help in it, and He revealed that He didn’t just have the power to heal the sick or raise the dead. He showed them that even creation is under His authority. You and I can never know God fully in these bodies. We can’t handle it so He reveals Himself to us in ways that change the lenses through hutch we see Him. He allows things to happen to bring us closer to Him so we can know Him more. It may be fearful or painful at the time, but the end result is to reveal to you parts of His nature that we’re previously unknown to you. If you’re in the storm, quit fighting it yourself. Go to Jesus the way the disciples did and look for Him to reveal Himself to you through it.

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Stand Strong

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Gideon. I’m reminded of his story so often because I find myself in need of all the lessons it teaches. In Judges 6, the Bible explains that times were bad in Israel. The Midianites were destroying crops, killing animals and harassing the Israelites. There wasn’t anything anyone could do to stop them. The Israelites lived in fear because of all the bad things that were happening. If they had grain, they had to thresh it in hiding. If they had goats, they had to keep them hidden. Anything in the open would be taken.

Gideon was threshing his grain in the bottom of a wine press so no one would see him. An angel appeared and called out to him, “Mighty hero, The Lord is with you.” Gideon, who was hiding because he was afraid of the Midianites, didn’t think twice about the angel calling him a hero. What caught his attention was that the angel said, “The Lord is with you.” He took a double take at the angel and must have thought this guy didn’t know much. How could he say that when so many bad things were happening?

He confronted the angel and asked, “If The Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” Have you ever felt that way? When everything in life is going wrong and you feel abandoned by God. It’s an uncomfortable place. A dark place. Fear of the future grips your mind. You find yourself constantly worrying about things that you have no control over. You feel like God has forgotten you or worse, abandoned you in need. Your mind tells you that God doesn’t care. That He doesn’t see you in your pain.

In this verse, the angel reminds us that God’s presence in our lives isn’t proven by our circumstances. Our lives can be falling apart and God can still be with us. We’ve somehow come to believe that God is with us when things are good and has abandoned us when times are bad. His presence is with you no matter what. He is with you even when you can see His hand or feel His presence. He is with you when your life is so dark that you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. He is not only with you, He’s preparing you for greatness in those times. Greatness doesn’t come from an easy life. It’s forged in the darkness and in the fire.

Whatever you are facing today, I say to you, “Mighty hero, The Lord is with you!” You may not feel like a hero, but you’re still standing through everything. You may not feel like The Lord is with you, but He has never left your side. He has been standing next to you through everything you have faced and everything you will face because He will not abandon you. He will not forsake you. He will not forget you. He will deliver you when the timing is right. He will lead you to better times when you have learned all He wants to show you in the dark. Stand strong today because The Lord is with you.

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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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Patient Endurance

Patience. It’s not a word we like very much. We like to have results quickly without having to put in the time and effort. We want answers given to us without us having to dig for them. We want growth without risk, and we want fruit without tending the garden. We’ve heard the saying, “Good things come to those who wait,” but who really wants to wait? We live in a now society where everything is given to us quickly. The temptation is to let our societal speed carry over into our spiritual growth.

Endurance. It’s not something you get in good times. It requires pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of. It takes mental toughness to get it. You have to withstand pressure repeatedly in order to attain it. Giving up can’t be an option if you’re going to increase your endurance. You have to keep your mind on the prize to keep your mind off the struggle if you’re going to build your endurance. It isn’t given to you, it’s earned.

Both of these things are required of us as Christians. The more of God you want to know, the more patience and endurance you’re going to have to have. If we are willing to give up in the struggle, we will miss the blessings God is preparing us for. Hebrews 10:36 says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised” (NLT). When things appear to be going wrong in our life, God is preparing us to receive all He has for us.

We can’t be like Jacob and fight it. In Genesis 42, there was a famine in the land. Jacob sent 10 of his sons to get food in Egypt. Joseph wanted them all there so he pretended to not know them, sent them home with their food, and held one brother captive until they returned with their other brother. Jacob felt like he was being punished when God was just trying to get him to the land of plenty. In verse 36, he cried out, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”

If everything is going against you, it’s quite possible that God is actually trying to bless you. Jacob waited a long time before he sent his sons back to get more food and their brother. He could have been living without fear of starvation. He could have had the relationship with his son restored had he not delayed. God was trying to use what appeared to be negative circumstances to move him into a place of blessing. Imagine what God could be trying to do for you in your situation. Work on having patient endurance instead of complaining, and see what God does.

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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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Quit Panicking

One of the most common Christian myths many of us believe is that when I do what God asks me to, there won’t be any issues and things will go smoothly. For me, it seems like when I step out in faith and do what God asks, things often start going wrong. There are times it feels like I’ve jumped out of an airplane, but I’m not the one who gets to pull the cord on the parachute. The ground starts getting closer and I start to panic. I cry out, “God, where are you? Did you tell me to do this? Why haven’t you worked on my behalf yet? Don’t you care about my reputation? My family? I thought you were going to work out everything for my good.” At that point, it’s easy to start questioning if I really heard God or if I’m really in His will because I’m looking at external factors and I’m believing the myth that everything should be smooth sailing when I’m in His will through obedience.

In Mark 4, after a long day of teaching, night was falling and Jesus said, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake” (TPT). They all piled in a boat, and several people from the crowd got in boats to follow them across the lake. Being tired from teaching, Jesus decided to call it a night. He laid down and fell asleep. That’s when a ferocious storm came rolling in with violent winds that were rocking the boat and causing it to take on so much water that they were afraid of sinking. In verse 39, they had a similar prayer to mine. They woke Jesus up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re all about to die?” Jesus, once He was fully awake, steps out, rebukes the wind and calms the sea. I’m sure He gave them a disappointed look as He said, “Why are you so afraid? Haven’t you learned to trust yet?”

Those words are ringing in my ears today as I shift my focus from my circumstances to who He is. When things don’t go the way we thought they should after our obedience, fear creeps in. Fear of failure. Fear of being embarrassed. Fear of going broke. Fear of our own ship going down. The storm you’re in may be great, but He is greater. It may feel like He’s asleep, but He knows what you’re going through. Push through the fear and panic, and trust that if He’s called you to it, He’ll get you through it. A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, and easy times never stretch our faith. Yes, it might have been a big leap you took, but your faith has so much more room to grow. Now is not the time for panic. It’s the time for prayer and faith. He hasn’t ever failed you, and He won’t start failing you today.

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