Tag Archives: encouragement

Purpose In Problems

It’s easy to believe that God is working things in your favor when things in your life are going right. When things aren’t going according to your plan, it becomes more difficult to believe that. We often see problems and road blocks in our lives as hindrances to God’s plan, but I believe God uses all of them to grow us and to put us on the right path so His plan for our life can be accomplished. God’s plan for our lives rarely takes the path of least resistance.

In the hardest times of my life, I couldn’t see God’s hand working. I was so focused on the pain and the problems that I questioned if God even knew what was going on. I cried out constantly for Him to make it all go away, but He knew what He was doing. He created a raw dependence on Him which led to a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with Him. He understands that hard times bring us closer to Him and make us stronger. In fact, some of His greatest work in our lives happen when we see His hand the least.

Romana 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). He doesn’t just cause some things to work together. He causes everything in our lives to work together for our good. There is a purpose in problems. There is hope in uncertainty. God is behind the scenes working on your behalf even when we’re blinded by our situation. His plan for our lives will come to pass, and it will be to our benefit. We just have to trust even when we can’t see what He’s doing.

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Trusting The Plan

One of the things I love about King David is that He kept trusting God no matter what was going on. When there was a giant threatening his nation, He believed God would deliver them. When he was sent back to tending sheep after he was anointed king, he kept praising God. When he sinned, he cried out for forgiveness. When nothing was going right, he went to the Rock that was higher. He was human just like us, but he learned to fully trust God no matter what was happening in his life.

Before he became king, Saul thought if he could kill him, his own son would be king instead. David spent a lot of time running from Saul and living in caves. He knew that God had anointed him to be king, yet here he was living in a cave instead of a palace. He didn’t cry out asking God why he wasn’t king. Instead, in Psalm 57:2 he said, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me” (NLT). Even though the promise seemed out of reach, he trusted in God’s plan.

If your life isn’t where you thought it should be or if it feels like you’re on the defensive, trust God’s plan. Ive found that God grows us and shapes us in the caves of life. He uses them to prepare us for His plan. Instead of being upset and angry that things aren’t working out according to your plan, thank God that He has a plan and He’s working it out in your life. The cave is worth the price you pay for the life God is leading you to. He will fulfill His purpose for you.

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Repurposing Your Life

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.

One of the things I like about watching HGTV is to see how the repurpose and reuse previously discarded materials. Who knew you could take old, wooden Coca-Cola bottle boxes, screw them together, put legs under them, and put glass on top to create a cool display coffee table? I love how they find new uses for previously thrown out items or give new life to things that are worn out and are thought to be worthless. Their creativity is inspiring.

When I watch that, I can’t help but think, “That’s what God does with us!” He takes our lives that are broken, used up, out dated and seemingly useless, and repurposes us. He gives us new life that makes us more beautiful than before. He sometimes finds us in life’s scrap pile and thinks, “I can find new life and uses for this.” When everyone else sees someone worth discarding, God sees potential. This always gives me hope.

In Isaiah 41, God had strong words for Israel. They had fallen away and were scattered. They were a people who were broken and thought of as trash, but God doesn’t like to leave His children that way. In verse 9 He said, “I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away” (NLT). When others, and often ourselves, don’t see value in our life and are willing to toss us out with yesterday’s garbage, God sees someone He value and can use.

In verse 10, He goes on to say, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Not only does He see your life as valuable and worthy of repurposing, He’s going to give you strength, help and victory for the transition. It’s not always easy being repurposed, but if we will let God have complete control over our lives, He will make something beautiful and useful.

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A Holy Fire

There are some lyrics to a song we sing at church that keep burning inside me. They say, “Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of you, God.” We had sang that song at church many times before, but on a balcony in Haiti, it became my prayer. As we were having a time of worship in Gonaives, we sang that song and I started listening to the words. I began to internalize what they meant. I began to sing the song with more of a passion than a compulsion.

What does that look like to have a fire set in your soul? What does that feel like to have it burn without bring able to control it? What would happen to me if I truly wanted more of God in my life? Do I really, truly want that and what is the cost? We sing songs and read scriptures a lot without giving much thought to the words we are saying or reading. We rarely dig down deep and plant those words in our heart and mind.

God gives Himself to us to the extent that we allow room for Him. Too many Christians are like the inn keeper in Bethlehem. They have no room for Him, but they want Him, so they put Him in the stable of their lives. He doesn’t just want to be in your stable. He wants the entire inn of your life. He wants to come into every room you have locked up. He wants to fill you up, but you have to make room which means you have to get rid of things.

For me, I want more of Him than I have today. I want to give Him the keys to my inn. I want to kick out the guests of sin, control, security, lack of faith and fear. I want to be like John The Baptist in john 3:30 and say, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (NLT). The only way for that to happen is to set a Holy Fire within that gets rid of selfish desires so I can embrace all He has for me.

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Tough Choices

A couple of years ago, God asked us to move to a different church. It was one of the most difficult things to obey. I didn’t want to switch, but we felt Him speaking it to us over and over. We tested it by praying, “God, if this is you, and we’re hearing you right, then let these things happen.” After they happened, I reasoned those things could have “just happened”. We prayed again and asked for more signs, and He gave them. This went on for months because we didn’t want to move. Finally, I agreed to move, but told Him it was only going to be temporary.

It’s a difficult thing to follow God when it’s not when or where you want to go. People don’t understand why you’re picking up and moving. Others feel like you’re abandoning them because they don’t understand why either. We like to think going where God wants us to go is easy, but many times it isn’t. We like having roots planted, but if we are following where God leads, we have to be willing to be transplanted at any given moment.

After the children of Israel left Egypt, they followed God into the desert. Many times they questioned Him and wanted to return to where they came from. Over time, they learned to follow where He led. The Bible says, they followed God’s Shekinah glory wherever and whenever it lead. Numbers 9:22 says, “Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on” (NLT).

They learned what you and I have to learn. We need to follow where God leads us whether it’s for a short while or a long time. If we are surrendered to His plan and purposes, we must always be willing to move. It’s not easy at times, but following where He leads results in growth, blessings and expanded territory. If God is calling you away from where you’ve been, it’s time to break camp and move. You may not know why or where God is leading, but following Him is always the right choice.

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All Things New

One of the most beautiful sinner’s prayers is found in Psalm 51. David, the man after God’s own heart, is praying in response to having committed adultery with Bathsheba and consequently murdering her husband when she got pregnant. His sin reminds us that none of us are above sinning, no matter how close we are to God. His prayer shows us that we can be made right with God, no matter how far away we feel we are.

In verse 3, he started out, “I recognize my faults; I am always conscious of my sins” (GNT). Each one of us knows ourselves better than anyone. If we are honest with ourselves, we can point out our own faults and know where we are broken inside. Too many of us spend a lifetime trying to cover those up and pretending like we’re fine. When we forget or hide those things, we open ourselves up to walking into sin and failure.

Verse 7 says, “Remove my sin, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” None of us are capable of removing our own sin or healing our brokenness. David trusted God’s forgiveness to be absolute, and we should too. When God forgives us, our sin is gone. We too should let it go and quit living in the shame of our past failures. The stain of our sin is gone. If God has forgiven you, you should forgive yourself too. Your freedom is found in forgiveness from God and self.

My favorite part of this prayer comes from verse 10. David prayed, “Create a pure heart in me, O God, and put a new and loyal spirit in me.” David didn’t like his brokenness. Instead of trying to live with it and defeat it over and over again, he prayed God would heal it. God is more than able to heal our brokenness and create something new in us. Remember, when Jesus forgives us, our old life passes away and all things become new, including our heart. Trust the work that God has done in your life and live in the freedom He gave you.

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Symbiotic Relationships

A couple of years ago, we started going to a different church. The Pastor and I went to lunch in order to get to know one another. During the lunch he said, “I want to drink from your well just like you drink from mine.” What he was saying was, I want to learn from you just like you learn from me. I was taken aback. I thought, “What do I have that you as a pastor could learn from me?” He must have seen the look on my face, so he repeated that he wanted a symbiotic relationship.

What I’ve learned is that we all have something to give, and therefore we all have the ability to help each other out. As Christians, we need to make sure we spend time building each other up and helping each other out. This isn’t a competition. There’s not one of us who has this whole thing figured out. Not one of us are perfect. So why not swallow our pride so we can learn from each other? We shouldn’t be people who take, or drink from other people’s wells, all the time. We need to create symbiotic relationships in the Body of Christ.

Here are some Bible verses on having symbiotic relationships with each other.

1. What I mean is that both you and I will be helped at the same time, you by my faith and I by yours.

Romans 1:12 GNT

2. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:16 NLT

3. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT

4. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with a realistic self-view]. Do not overestimate yourself.


5. Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

Luke 6:37-38 MSG


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