Tag Archives: give up

Fruitful In Affliction


Joseph’s adult life was marked by many afflictions and sufferings. His brothers turned on him to kill him. They decided to sell him as a slave, and he was taken to Egypt where he was sold. He worked as a slave until he was falsely accused of raping his master’s wife. After spending many years in prison, he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker only to be forgotten. For 13 years his life spun out of control and seemed to be going away from the dream God gave him. 

What he didn’t know was that God was setting him up to fulfill that dream. Through it all, he developed the character necessary to be a leader that would lead a nation through a crisis. We don’t know about the dark nights he must have questioned God. We don’t get to read how hopeless he felt at times. We don’t even get to find out the depth of his affliction, but we know it was there. He went through these things because he was human like us.

We get a sense of it by the names of his children after being made second in command of Egypt. His first son was named Manasseh which means “God has made me forget all my troubles.” The name of his second son is even more telling. Genesis 41:52 says, “And the second he called Ephraim [to be fruitful], For [he said] God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (AMPC). Not only did God help him to leave the past behind him, He helped him to become fruitful where he suffered.

Whatever pain or suffering that you have endured or are enduring, know that God has not forgotten you. He is fulfilling His plan in your life and will cause you to be fruitful and prosper because of what you are enduring. Even if the pain is unbearable, in time God can help you to forget these troubles like a mom forgets labor pains. The joy that comes after is greater than the pain you endured because life is born. Just as God developed Joseph, He is developing you so you can be fruitful in the land of your affliction.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A Work In Progress


Several years ago, the housing market tanked. Before it did, new neighborhoods were going up everywhere. Commercial real estate was also doing well. Then, suddenly it seemed to stop. There’s evidence of this all over. When you drive through some neighborhoods, you can see just the frame of a house. It had been started, but not finished. There are also slabs of concrete around where buildings were going to be built. Now, they’re just reminders of a poor economy that once was booming.

As I drive through neighborhoods seeing half finished houses, it always makes me sad. I think of the family who had plans to live there. I think of the current residents whose property value is hurt by those ghost houses just sitting there decaying with the weather. It also makes me think of people whose lives are a lot like those houses. They started off strong, but somewhere down the path of life, tragedy hit, and their growth just stopped.

As believers, we aren’t exempt from those tragedies that aim to prevent our growth and completion. There are many Christians who have been hit with something out of the blue, and it simply paralyzed their future plans. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to think, “There’s no future for me so what’s the use in trying.” But those were my words, not God’s. His plan is to complete the work on your life despite what you’ve faced. He still has the blueprints and wants to complete you.

Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished” (NLT). God completes what He started. He will continue to make beauty from ashes. He can take our broken, unfinished lives, and create beautiful masterpieces. There is hope for you. God is not finished working on you. He will be faithful to resume the work and complete what He started in you. Don’t give up yet. You are a work in progress. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

God Loves Underdogs


When I was a Sophomore in high school, our basketball team made it to the state championship. We didn’t look like much either. Our pre game warm up clothes were grey sweat pants and our gym shirt. The tallest guy on our team was only 6’1″. I’ll never forget going into the locker room before that game. Coach had a newspaper in his hands and said, “I want to read y’all something before we go out there. This is the Dallas Morning News. It says, and I quote, ‘This game is nothing but a formality. Lifestyle (my school) doesn’t stand a chance against their stronger, taller, more experienced opponent.”

He put down the paper, looked at us, and said, “Now the world thinks we’ve already lost, and we haven’t even stepped foot on the court. They’ve already decided that trophy belongs to the other team. I say we go out there and prove everyone wrong. I say we go out there and give it everything we’ve got. And when that final buzzer sounds, let’s see who’s on top!” Immediately we began to shout what sounded like war cries. We began to beat the lockers making noise. We ran out of that locker room and played the game of our lives and won.

II Chronicles 32 and Isaiah 36, tell how the king of Assyria was destroying cities across the land. He moved his conquest into Israel and continued his victorious streak. He had a psychological advantage over any city because he hadn’t lost. When he turned his eyes to Jerusalem, King Hezekiah didn’t fear though. It made him curious. Isaiah 36:4 says, “Then the Assyrian king’s chief of staff told them to give this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident?”

He wasn’t used to finding kings who weren’t afraid of him. The world knew when the Assyrian King fought you, it was just a formality, but something was different with King Hezekiah. This chief of staff came and spoke loudly in Hebrew about how he was going to destroy everyone and everything in Jerusalem. He told the people it was foolish to trust Hezekiah. He told them to disobey and to just open the gate so the inevitable would happen quickly. He even told them that the Lord their God told him to come destroy them.

Hezekiah’s had confidence because he knew God loves an underdog. In II Chronicles 32:7-8 he told his warriors, “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” That day, God got rid of the Assyrian King. He proved why those who trust in Him can have confidence even though everyone else says they’ve already lost. You may not have the power, ability, or strength to win your battle, but you have a power far greater on your side. Don’t let fear cause you to trust what seems to be a formality. Have confidence in our God. His report is what matters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Enduring The Storm


Several years ago I lived in Cairo, Egypt. At certain times I would be about my business when I would notice people begin to scurry and panic a bit. I would then turn around to look at the dessert to see a dust storm coming. It would look like a huge brown wall from ground to sky getting bigger as it approached. I was given a warning when I first moved there. I was told that if I ever saw that, take cover and wait it out in a building. If I got caught in it, I wouldn’t be able to see and could get lost or possibly die.

Some storms that come into our lives are like that. They come when we least expect them and they’re blinding. If we don’t act quickly, we can lose sight of where we are going, lose our way, or feel like we’d rather die. These storms that pop up out of nowhere can be very dangerous if we don’t take shelter from them. You never know how long they’ll last, but if you’ve taken shelter in God, you can weather any storm.

Most of the early chapters of Isaiah are about the Lord’s wrath against cities and countries. It’s about destruction that God is going to bring on the ungodly. But in chapter 25, Isaiah begins to praise the Lord for His awesome power and ability to destroy. In verse 4, he reminds us who God is in the storm. He wrote, “But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat” (NLT).

Just like I was able to run into a building when a dust storm was coming, we can find our reprieve in Him. Too many times though, we try to fight the storm in our own strength. We try to weather it on our own. I can tell you that’s very tiring and will wear you out. I’ve tried that strategy. I ended up laid out on my living room floor exhausted from the battle before I cried out to the Lord for shelter. In our own strength we can’t endure very long, but we are stubborn and try.

It takes humility to admit you can’t do it. You can choose to humble yourself and seek God for shelter or the storm can humble you. God would rather we admit up front that there’s nothing we can do on our own to fight the storm. He would rather we admit we can’t do it in our own strength, and that we go to Him for His. Don’t let pride stand in your way and keep you from praying, “Lord, I need you to shelter me from this storm. I can’t endure it on my own. I need your help.” When we humble ourselves, He us faithful and His grace is sufficient to cover you and to help you endure.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A Place Of Abundance

  
When we go through hard times, we all want to know why. What did we do to deserve it? Why does it have to last so long? Did God abandon us? Has He forgotten us? How much more can we endure before we break? These are all questions we think about when we go through the fire of trials. It’s been my experience that it’s not until well after that I begin to get any insight into it, if at all. So why does God allow us to face unbearable conditions?

In a word, it’s transformational. There can be no transformation in our lives without hard times. They mold us, purify us, and move us from one place to another. As my nephew says, “No pressure, no diamond.” The problem is, we want the diamond without the pressure. We want the transformation without the trial. We want strength without having to endure heavy lifting. We want things now instead of later, but that’s not how God works, nor is it how we were designed.

In Psalm 66:10-12 it says, “You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance” (NLT). It was God who tested them, put a heavy burden on them, and sent them through the fire and flood. He does the same to us today. It’s not fun, it hurts, and it’s hard to get through at times, but God has a plan.

As the psalmist wrote, He’s purifying us in order to bring us to a place of abundance. You can’t get to the abundance without going through the purification of fire. When those times come remember that if you will endure it, God is working it out for your good. He’s bringing you to a place that you could never get to without having gone through it. Also remember his promise in Isaiah 42:3, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” He’s there with you in these times and won’t let them crush you. Hang in there, abundance is coming.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

You’re Not BER (Video)

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 (NLT)

If you are having trouble viewing this video, click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Spiritual Progress

IMG_0256

Growing up, I was a huge Michael Jordan fan. I used to watch the Slam Dunk contest and then try to duplicate him on our neighbor’s adjustable goal. My room was covered in posters and my feet were covered by his shoes. I watched “Come Fly With Me” almost every day. It highlighted the early part of his career. There was a scene in there that I remember well. Early in his second season with the Bulls, he broke a bone in his foot. It put him out most of the season. The video talked about his dedication to getting better and showed videos of him working out. One image still sticks with me. He was walking through a pool with his shoes on.

In order for him to go on in his career, he had to strengthen his foot. They put him in a pool and had him walk through it as fast as he could while slaloming. The water in the pool provided resistance and that resistance is what gave him strength to go on. I didn’t understand it at the time, but now I get it. I’ve seen God use the same “therapy” in my life and in other’s too. He provides resistance to make us stronger than we are, but we typically just want out of the pool.

Habakkuk 3:19 says, “The Lord God is my strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make spiritual progress upon my high places of trouble, suffering or responsibility! (AMP)” We get weak and break down when we forget that God is our strength. We are defeated when we fight our own battles instead of allowing Him to use His invincible army. We hunker down and stay still instead of moving when we are controlled by fear or pain. But God wants us to move forward in those times.

He knows that resistance makes us stronger. He understands that we need to make spiritual progress no matter what is in front of us. The Scripture didn’t say that we make our own feet like hinds’ feet. It says He does that. We are the ones who have to be willing to let Him. We have to take those steps of spiritual progress in the tough times. We have to push through the waters in order to grow our strength. God is for you and is using the difficult times to give you the strength to endure.

Here’s another one of God’s promises to you. Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you go through the deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. (NLT)” The rivers of difficulty aren’t fun, but they are necessary to give us strength. We can push forward and rely on God’s promise that He is with us during those times and that He will not let us drown. Your spiritual progress is important to God. Keep walking through that river and hold your head up. God is working in you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Blueprints of Faith

In our small group last night, we were reading from Genesis 6 where God gave Noah the blueprints for the ark. He told him it was to be 450 feet long, 45 feet high and 75 feet wide. He told him what kind of wood to use, how many levels to have, how to waterproof the wood, to build stalls and even told him why he was to do it and how it would happen. I got a little jealous of Noah as I read all of that because he got a blueprint of exactly what God wanted from him with each step.

I’d love for God to do that for me. Instead, I feel more like Abraham who God told, “Leave your native land and go to the land that I will show you.” There were no blueprints, no reasons or navigational directions. He was simply told to pack his stuff, leave his relatives and everything he’d known for a land that he would be shown without being given a reason. I don’t know if he felt the doubt, frustration and fear that I do from being in those shoes.

At first, I started to think that Abraham was the one who really acted in faith. After all, he didn’t get a step by step guide like Noah. The more I think about it, the more I see how much faith it took from Noah to accomplish his task even with a blueprint. When God shows you something you’ve never seen or heard of and asks you to do it, that requires a lot of faith. Even with a blueprint, you are venturing into the unknown, the uncomfortable. It requires faith to start building.

Another thing I see with Noah is the sheer enormity of the project God asked of him. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with how much God asks of us, but just like with Noah, it starts with one board and one nail. It took him a hundred years to complete what God asked of him. As our group leader pointed out last night, imagine Noah on year 33. After all those years, he was only a third of the way done. He’s worked night and day every day for over 39 years and only has a little of the project to show for it. Most of us would have quit. By faith, Noah got up the next day and kept following the blueprints.

Whether God has given you a set of blueprints or has asked you to follow Him with blind trust, it requires faith on your part. Faith to pick up that first board or faith to pack your bags and take that first step. Which of these two do you identify with? Has God asked for endurance from you to see His plan through in the face of ridicule and a seemingly lack of progress? Has He asked you to leave everything you’ve known to do something He’ll show you later? Either way, it requires faith and He has faith in you to accomplish it or He wouldn’t have asked you. Take courage and do something today that moves you in the direction of what He asked you to do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Be Strong and Brave

I have an old song stuck on my head today. It says, “Be bold. Be strong. For The Lord, your God, is with you.” It’s a great reminder that no matter what you are facing today that The Lord is with you. If He is with you, then He is for you. The Scripture says that if God is for you, who can be against you? I don’t know what your facing today, but I know that God wants you to be bold and strong because He is with you.

There are times when the storm, battle or mountain that we face seem too big. It may look like it will consume you and there is no way to survive it. I assure you that you can survive it. With God on your side, how can you be defeated? I’ve learned that I may get banged up, scarred or bruised through whatever I’m facing. Just because that happens, it doesn’t mean that God is not for me or that I can’t survive it.

We were not promised that we would walk through this world without getting scars or face problems. In fact, Jesus said in John 16:33 that in this world we would have many trials. That doesn’t sound like life will be a bed of roses if we follow Jesus. He guaranteed that you will fight battles, face mountains and endure storms. The good news is that He didn’t stop the conversation there. The very next thing He said was, “Be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. (AMP)”

Yes, you are going to face some things that will seem like they will swallow you up. They may consume your every waking thought and cause you to lose sleep, but take courage, He has overcome this world and has conquered those things that seem like they’re about to conquer you. You can rest assured in the promises of God, in who He says He is and what He says He’ll do.

You don’t have to lose sleep or waste energy worrying. God sees you in your battle, He’s watching you in that storm and He’s got His watchful eye on you as you climb that mountain. He will give you the strength you need in your time of trouble. He will hear your cry from Heaven. He will come walking to you on the water while the storms of life rage in order to walk with you. If you get scars or bruised up in the process, use them for His glory. Show them proudly and let others know that when you were at your lowest, when you were beat down and when you thought you couldn’t survive another day, God came to your rescue.

Psalm 31:24 in the Message version says, “Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon.” That’s exactly what I need to hear when I’m struggling and fighting what seems to be a losing battle. I love how it ends with “expect God to get here soon.” You may feel like you are fighting alone, but hang on. God is on His way. Expect Him to get there soon. It will be at just the right time and not a minute sooner. Don’t give up while waiting. Be strong and brave.

Here is the link to a YouTube video of the song mentioned at the beginning.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized