Tag Archives: faith

Looking For God’s Works

My job is one that requires people to gather together. When quarantining and isolation began, my customers postponed our meetings. The next day, our air conditioner went out. I felt defeated and began to worry about how to make ends meet. Fear started to creep in. That Sunday, my pastor preached on not giving into fear or a defeatist attitude. I began to change how I prayed to God about my situation. I thanked Him for all He’s done for me and began to recount the ways He’s provided in the past. My attitude began to change as I reminded myself that God is my source, not my skills, talents or job.

That week, we received money from a friend to help with the AC. The AC guy offered to accept half now and half in a month. The next day, I received a check from a stock payout that had been set up two years before. The next week, I received my income tax check. Then the bank sent me a check from an over payment last year. These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more things that have happened during this time where God has shown up just in time and provided for our needs. It seems almost every day something happens where my wife and I look at each other, laugh in disbelief and then stop to thank God for His provision. We now look for all the ways He’s working in our lives beyond the monetary ways.

Psalm 18:22 says, “Now I’m alert to GOD’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works” (MSG). I believe when you and I begin to look for the different ways God is moving in our lives, we will find them. Some times it’s obvious, but most of the times, they are little, subtle hints that He’s working on our behalf and causing all things to work together for our good. We have to train our eyes to look beyond our problems to see His provision. We need to be alert to God’s ways of working in our lives so we don’t take the little things He does for granted. At the end of each day, think back to where you saw God work on your behalf and give Him thanks. Not only will it change your perspective of your situation, it’ll refocus your eyes on God.

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Faith Over Fear

Several years ago I was in charge of a fundraiser for a mission trip at our church. We had someone volunteer to make brisket for us, so we sold tickets ahead of the event. After we got the final number of tickets in, the man cooking the brisket gave me the shopping list including how much brisket. As I was buying the brisket, I believed we would sell more brisket than we had sold tickets for. When I got to the counter to order the briskets, I asked for an additional case. If you’re unfamiliar with that, it’s about 60 lbs of more meat that we would need to sell. Many people who bought tickets failed to show up for their meat though. We had a ton left over so I asked the pastor if we could sell after church. My wife looked at all the meat and said, “I hope God honors your faith because I don’t see how we can sell all of this.”

As Christians, we must daily choose whether we’re going to let fear hold us back or let faith guide us. There are so many decisions we have to make, some with long lasting effects. We can shrink back in fear of the unknown or we can step out in trust of what God will do. Hebrews 10:38 says that God is not happy with those who let fear hold them back. I don’t want to live a life that doesn’t make my Heavenly Father happy so I choose to live and walk by faith even though it isn’t easy. When you live by faith, you never know for certain if or when God will jump in to help. There are a lot of “God, where are you? Now would be a good time to show up” moments. But, as the psalmist said, “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging for bread (Psalm 37:25).”

I like how Hebrews 10:39 describes the life we’re to live. It says, “But we are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life!” (TPT) You and I cannot be people who are held back by fear. We are people who advance by faith. Either we believe what we say or we don’t. Our actions will always be consistent with what we truly believe. I’ve chosen to move forward despite fear. Living by faith doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It means you chose not to let it hold you back from your God given purpose. Faith takes a deep breath and makes the decision to go forward in spite of the fear in your belly, and God honors that kind of faith.

By the way, all that brisket sold out in a matter of minutes after church and doubled what we had raised through ticket sales.

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Open The Hood Of Prayer

Prayer to me is like a car engine. I don’t know everything about it, but I know it works. Sure I can point out some parts under the hood and tell you what they do, but I don’t understand fully how they work. I’ve replaced a couple of parts that were easy to do, but for the harder stuff, I go to someone who understands it more fully. They are able to replace anything under the hood and make it run as intended. I take it to them because they know and understand every part of an engine. They also know how to tweak it to get the most out of it.

Every one of us can pray. Every one of us can make it work. We may not understand how it works or what to do to get the most out of it, but we can push the gas and make it go. I know people have broken down “The Lord’s Prayer” and taught me how to pray that way. I’ve been given methods like “ACTS” (Adoration, Confession, Thankfulness, Supplication) to give structure to my prayers. I’ve been shown how to pray intensely so that my prayers have more power. There are so many things we can learn about prayer, but most of us leave the hood closed.

If you’re going to pray more effectively, you’re going to have to spend some time under the hood tinkering. Powerful, effective prayers come out of spending time with the one we’re talking to. They come from intimately knowing the One to whom we pray. They come from understanding what His will is and what His Word says. The more we know what His Word says, the more we pray in accordance with it. The more we pray in accordance with it, the more He answers. The more He answers, the more faith and confident we get. The more faith and confident we get, the more effective our prayers become. James 5:16 says, “For tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!” (TPT)

Don’t be afraid to look under the hood of prayer. Learn what you can. Take time tweaking this and that to make it comfortable for you. Understand there are different types and ways to pray. Your prayers get an audience with the One who created everything you see. It’s worth investing time and energy to make them as effective as possible. Hang around others who get their prayers answered. Learn from them how to pray. Each one of us have room for growth in our prayers. To get better, we just have to open the hood

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Faith In A Drought

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.

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Barren Seasons

Have you been through a barren season? It’s those seasons where you have planted seeds and watered them, but nothing is growing or producing. It’s a little frustrating and a lot scary. To have followed God’s principles in the Bible and to not see Him move on your behalf can be worrisome. In those times, I’ve prayed, “God, where are you? Why haven’t you responded yet? I thought by now you would have shown up,” only to be answered by silence. Barren seasons show up out of no where and can last a while. They put your faith to the test, but what you can’t see, and what you have to remind yourself, is what God is doing with those planted seeds underground.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 gives us the prescription for these times. It says, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (NLT) We must continue to praise God anyway and choose to honor Him. Our hope is not in the fruits of our labor, but in the Lord. We cannot allow what we see in our circumstances to dictate our relationship with God. Circumstances are fickle, but God remains the same yesterday, today and forever.

In those barren seasons, I recount the character of God. I look back on who He has always been, not on how I perceive Him in my current situation. Relationships dictated by emotions fail because emotions can be manipulated. They must be built on something deeper. You must choose to love, to rejoice in the Lord and to be joyful even in the dry seasons. God has not changed who He is, nor has He stopped working on your behalf. Choose to rejoice no matter what the fields of your life look like right now. Trust in Him to be who He always has been. He is Jehovah Jireh, your provider and source even in the barren seasons. Your trust needs to be in Him rather than in the fruit of your labor.

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Winning Impossible Battles

In II Chronicles 20, a huge army invaded southern Israel. The king and all the people were terrified because they had defeated several strongholds easily. He begged God for help and asked others to pray with him. It sounds a lot like any one of us when we are facing something that seems impossible to beat. Fear is our first response, then we beg God for help. I believe what follows in this story is something we can all learn from in these moments in life.

The first thing that happened was King Jehoshaphat got like minded people together, fasted and prayed. We are not to fight these battles alone. Fear’s goal is to intimidate you and to push you into seclusion. Don’t let it! There is strength in numbers and in fasting. Get a group of people around you who can fight on their knees and touch God with you. This first step is critical if you’re going to win an impossible battle.

In verses 15-17, God answered those praying. The Word of the Lord came back saying, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (NLT). Things only seem impossible when God is not in the equation. The battles we face are not our own, but they are God’s. We don’t have to be afraid or discouraged at the sheer impossibility of anything that comes our way because God goes before us.

As the army of Israel approached the battlefield, Jehoshaphat spoke in verse 20 and reminded them, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets and you will succeed.” Faith will help us to stand firm when standing is all we can do. We can trust in God, and in His Word, to get the courage to keep standing in the face of impossibilities. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to continue to trust God and His Word until we can see the victory.

Finally, the king appointed singers to praise God and he sent them out in front. At the very moment they began to sing, the Lord gave victory. We need to be able to praise God in advance of victory. We need to honor Him when all else seems to be going wrong. Praise is powerful. It activates our faith and moves our God. If you can’t find it in you to praise, play praise music until you do. Victory is dependent on God, not us. We can praise Him for that. Our impossible battles are no match for a God who says all things are possible.

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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The Cost Of A Dream

What are you willing to pay to accomplish your dreams? The dreams are free, but seeing them come to fruition isn’t. So many of us freely talk about the dreams God puts in our hearts, but so few are willing to endure what it takes to make them happen. When God gives us a dream, He rarely includes the cost. Once the time comes to start paying for it, many of us walk away from it or question if God really gave it to us.

When Joseph was a teenager, God put a dream in his heart that his brothers would one day bow to him. He didn’t have that great of a relationship with them, so he was excited about it. He told them about it, probably in a flaunting way, and they hated him for it. They threw him in a pit, then sold him as a slave where he was carried off to Egypt. From there, he was falsely accused of rape, thrown in prison and forgotten for over ten years.

Through all of that, he kept believing in the dream. We don’t read where he questioned God for his troubles. I believe it was because he thought of it as the price of his dream, and he was willing to pay it. God knew that as a teenager, he wasn’t ready to be second in command of Egypt. He tested him and developed the character traits that he would need to make the dream a reality. Joseph paid the price for his dream.

Psalm 105:19 says, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character” (NLT). If God gave you a dream and everything is going wrong, chances are that He’s testing your character. He’s finding out if you’re willing to pay the price and if you’re ready. Don’t give up because the dream seems so far away and the cost is high. Keep working hard. Keep paying the price. Don’t quit. God is getting you ready for the fulfillment of that dream. The dreams God gives us are always worth the cost.

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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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