Overwhelmed. Outnumbered. Stressed. When looking at situations we face, it doesn’t take much for these feelings to pop up and dominate our thoughts. When we feel this way, we tend to have tunnel vision. We concentrate on the issue at hand and lose track of other things that are going on. Fear and worry use it as an opportunity to move into our thoughts. All the what if’s begin to pop up, and we forget who truly is in control. That’s why it’s good to have a godly friend you can reach out to when you go into this tailspin. They can encourage you, pray for you and help you get your mind right. They help put things back in perspective.
In 2 Chronicles 32, the Assyrian army was destroying everyone in their path. Jerusalem was on their hit list and they were coming for it. King Hezekiah shored up the city’s water supply by building an underground tunnel to channel water in. He built up their defenses and then gathered every man in the city in front of the city gate. The men were overwhelmed, outnumbered and stressed. They knew they were going to be defeated. The king gathered them in order to encourage them and help them get their minds right. All they could focus on was the impending doom on its way. Worry and fear had taken over.
Then in verses 7-8, the king said, “‘Be determined and confident, and don’t be afraid of the Assyrian emperor or of the army he is leading. We have more power on our side than he has on his. He has human power, but we have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.’ The people were encouraged by these words of their king” (GNT). You may need to read that last statement of his again. You have more power on your side than the situation you’re facing has on its. You have the power, protection and promises of God on your side. You don’t fight your battles alone, and He who is in you is greater than he who is against you (1John 4:4). Be encouraged today, pray and get your mind focused on God. You can pull out of the self destructive tail spin and be victorious no matter what you’re facing.
About twenty years ago I did some things and went through some that changed my life. I made poor decisions and suffered consequences for them. At one point I was beating myself up over it. I began to get worked up and defeated over one thing in particular. Because of the things I had gone through, the denomination I was a part of at the time had a rule that people in my circumstance could never be in any ministry role. It was devastating. My whole life I had dreamed of one day being in ministry, and now that dream was dead. A friend came over and asked why I was upset. When I told him, he responded, “What makes you think that you, or this denomination, can rescind God’s calling? You don’t have that kind of power!” It was the slap in the face I needed, and I began to hope and believe again that one day that would happen.
In Romans 4, Paul is writing about Abraham, God’s promise to him and how it relates to our faith. Verse 14 says, “If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless” (NLT). He explains none of us are capable of keeping God’s Law without messing up and God’s promises are received through faith. Then verse 17-18 says, ”This (Abraham receiving the promise) happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping.” That’s powerful. Even when there was no reason to hope, he kept hoping. That’s truly was faith is.
If you feel like a dream or calling is dead, it’s time to hope and believe again. Your past actions, or your current circumstances, do not have the power to change God’s promises or His calling. We serve a God who brings dead dreams, dead hopes, dead callings, dead you name it back to life. There is nothing that is impossible for Him. We have to push past the lies and what our eyes tell us in order to believe what God promised. We must awaken faith and hope in our heart again and trust that God, who brings dead things to life and creates new things out of nothing, will respond and move on our behalf. It’s not easy, but that’s what faith is. Abraham did it and was rewarded for his faith. I believe God will reward us too when we stand with that kind of faith and begin moving in the direction He called us to.
A friend of mine was in a wreck recently. As he went through an intersection, an On coming car didn’t stop. They broadsided his truck, pushed it about 15 feet into the median and caused him to roll over. As he got his bearings, he checked on his girls in the back seat. They were dangling in their car seat because the truck same to a stop on the passenger side. He got out of his seatbelt, dropped to the bottom, got his girls out of their seats and out of the truck through the back window.
After telling me all of this, he said, “The body of the truck did what it was supposed to do. It protected my family.” Before the first truck in that line was ever rolled out of Detroit, Ford tested the body style over and over in crash tests. They made adjustments to the design so that it could withstand a heavy impact like that. They thoroughly tested it so that the public could buy it with confidence that if they ever were in a wreck, it would hold up and protect like it did.
Psalm 119:140 says, “Your promises have been thoroughly tested; that is why I love them so much” (NLT). God’s Word is filled with His promises to you and I. Those promises have been put to the test for generations all over the world. They have withstood the test of time and every situation, and that have proven to be true and reliable. When God says something, you can rely on it more than anything else in this world.
I did a Google search of “God’s promises,” and page after page listed thousands of promises found in God’s Word. Every one of them is something you can rely on. If you’re willing to step out in faith and put them to the test, you will find what billions of others have found out – they are true. Most of what God promises require you to step out in faith and activate it. You have to believe that they work before you see the result. That’s what faith is. Whatever you’re facing today, trust in God’s promise to you and not what your eyes and mind are telling you.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Almost every time I get on stage for work or church, I get nervous. What if I mess up? What if I don’t say things just right? I begin to doubt and my palms start to get sweaty. What if I drop the microphone? I’ve learned to step outside the room by myself to give myself a pep talk. I answer those questions with positive statements about myself and my abilities. I do it until I’m either out of time or until I’m full of confidence. I then march into the room with my head held high, ready to take on the challenge. Confidence is what gives me the strength to push through the doubts and questions in order to trust what I’ve done hundreds of times.
Stepping out in faith feels very similar. No matter how many times we do it, those questions echo in our mind. What if God doesn’t show up this time? What if He leaves you out here by yourself? What if this fails? The best thing to do is to go to God’s Word for a pep talk. Look at His character since the beginning. See how He delivered ordinary people extraordinarily. The Word of God should give each of us confidence to overcome our doubts, to get our game face on and to push past fear. I’ve found that you just need enough confidence to push past the initial fear. After that, momentum and faith can carry you to the finish line.
Here are some Bible verses on God giving confidence.
1. You will not be subject to terror, for it will not terrify you. Nor will the disrespectful be able to push you aside, because God is your confidence in times of crisis, keeping your heart at rest in every situation.
Proverbs 3:25-26 TPT
2. Lord, never forget the promises you’ve made to me, for they are my hope and confidence.
Psalms 119:49 TPT
3. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!”
Psalms 91:2 AMP
4. But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
Jeremiah 17:7 NLT
5. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.
My son, who is in elementary school, is having to read Pilgrim’s Progress. I remember having to read it at a young age too. Quite honestly I think it should be required reading for every Christian adult because there is so much depth to it. In it, Christian Pilgrim reads about Heaven and begins his journey to find Christ. On the way he meets people like Evangelist and Helper who guide him toward the Celestial City. He also encounters people like Worldly Wiseman, Despair and Formalist who try to persuade him to get off the straight and narrow path. Each person warms him not to listen to the others and he has to decide who is right and suffer the consequences when he listens to the wrong voices.
In Numbers 13, God told Moses to send out one person from each tribe to go throughout the Promised Land to scout it. They saw how fertile the land was, checked out the terrain and saw the cities. They noticed that there were several nations living in the land as well. They all agreed that it was a good land as God promised, but they also saw that there were giants and fortified cities that would be difficult to go to war with. The people began to murmur and to doubt God’s promise to give them the land. Then in verse 30 it says, “Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, ‘Let’s go up and take the land—now. We can do it’” (MSG). You know the story. The people listened to the 10 spies with a negative report and faced the consequences.
What has God promises you? What voices are causing you to doubt Him? We often forget that there is a process to receiving His promises. There are battles that must be won, faith steps to be taken and moments where you push past what your eyes see. If God has promised something to you, there will be giants and people who try to persuade you away from going after it. There comes a point where you either trust God or you don’t. Receiving His promises is never easy. It takes faith and it takes courage to move towards it because others can’t see it or feel the passion God placed in you. Who’s voice will you listen to? There are consequences for listening to the wrong ones, but there’s also forgiveness. Ask God to give you wisdom in who you listen to and courage to proceed. Go take your land. You can do it!
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.
One of the artisan things that has been mostly lost is the art of making bread. It’s so easy to go to the store to buy a loaf that few of us have time to make it unless we have specific dietary needs. My father in law though still makes tortillas. While it’s not a loaf of bread, the process is similar. He always heats water on the stovetop while he mixes the dry ingredients. He then adds a little water at a time until the mixture is just right. He then separates it out into smaller balls of dough, then he takes a wet paper towel, covers them and waits. He gives the yeast time to activate and interact with the dough. Once it has permeated the whole ball of dough, it time to roll them out and cook them. It’s a process that can’t be rushed or you change the end result.
Meditating on God’s Word is a lot like that process. We have to take the water of God’s Word and add it to the dry mixture of our lives. It then has to be kneaded into every area so that the dryness is gone. This means that we can’t just read the Bible for the sake of reading it. We must look at it and consider how we apply it and live it out. After that, it’s time to stop and think about it on a deeper level. What is the context? Why did God put this in the Bible? What all is He trying to say? You then look at it from the angle of every person in that passage thinking about its implications to them. By asking these questions and really chewing on the verse or passage before applying it, you allow it to permeate your entire being and gain deeper understanding of it. Then, when you’re crushed or walk through fiery trials and the heat of life is applied, you will produce the life you’re called to live.
In Matthew 13:33 Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and worked into three measures of flour until all of it was leavened” (AMP). Each of our lives must allow the Word of God to be worked into our lives through meditating on it. There are promises of being successful if we do (Joshua 1:8) as well as having a life that produces fruit in every season of life (Psalm 1:2-3). We are also told in James 1:22 to not just be hearers of God’s Word, but to also be doers of it. To do that, we must pray for insight and direction as we read, then spend time asking the question and meditating on it. God’s Word, like yeast, is alive and active and is wanting to permeate every ares of our life if we will slow down the process and allow it to do its work. Don’t read it to check off a Christian box. Read it to transform your life, to guide you and to lead you into His promises.
From the time we’re little, we learned to ask the question, “Do you promise?” Why do we do that when someone tells us something? Because we want to make sure they follow through on their word. When I was a kid, you had to cross your heart and hope to die or stick a needle in your eye if you didn’t keep it. These guarantees gave validity to the other person that you were going to keep your word no matter what. You learned at an early age that if you go back on a promise, then others won’t trust anything you say. When you broke a promise, you had to either find new friends or find a way to rebuild the trust you had lost. Making and trusting promises are a character building part of growing up.
Merriam Webster defines promise as, “A legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance of a specified act.” When I think of that combined with the promises of God, it builds my faith. I have a right to expect God to do what He promised in the Bible. In fact, I’ve read that there are over 3,000 promises from God in the Bible, and many are made to me and you. If God promised something to you and I, we can know and trust that He will do it no matter what. He has never broken a promise and He’s not going to start breaking them now. Hold onto them, trust them and build your life on them because you can count on them.
Here are some Bible verses on trusting God’s promises.
1. But the humble of heart will inherit every promise and enjoy abundant peace.
Psalms 37:11 TPT
2. The believer replied, “Every promise of God proves true; he protects everyone who runs to him for help. So don’t second-guess him; he might take you to task and show up your lies.”
Proverbs 30:5-6 MSG
3. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.
Romans 4:20-22 NLT
4. The words and promises of the LORD are pure words, Like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times.
PSALMS 12:6 AMP
5. Let your broken heart show your sorrow; tearing your clothes is not enough. Come back to the Lord your God. He is kind and full of mercy; he is patient and keeps his promise; he is always ready to forgive and not punish.
Some verses in the Bible have so much packed into them that you just have to stop and chew on them for a while. Zephaniah 3:17 is one of those verses. It says, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (NLT). Think about that verse for a minute. Some versions say, “God is present with you” (MSG) or “God is with you” (GNT). No matter what version, it’s important to know that wherever you go, whatever you do, God is there, present with you in each situation. We just need to learn to be more aware of His presence in our day.
From John 3:16, we know that God loves us. We’re taught that as a kid, but do you ever stop to think that more than that, God likes you too? He really does. He takes delight in us with gladness it says. He sees the deep, dark places of our heart that we keep hidden, and He still likes us and wants to be around us. So many of us keep those parts hidden from others because we think, “If they knew this about me, they wouldn’t like me.” God knows you and I are broken and have sin nature lurking inside. He wants to bring healing to those places, and calm our fears about them. Fear does not come from Him. It comes from not understanding who we are in Him and who He wants to be in our lives.
This verse then ends with a bang! God rejoices over you and sings joyful songs over you. Psalm 32:7 says that the songs God sings are to deliver us and to bring us victory. Just like a parent sings songs to their kids, God sings to us. He knows that wherever we go or whatever we do, we need His comfort, His protection and His victory. Today, God is present with you, He is might enough to save you from whatever you’re facing, He wants to be around you, He will calm your fears and be singing over you. To me, that means today, and every day has the potential to be a great day. We just need to keep this verse in mind so we can understand how God sees us and know who we are to Him.