Tag Archives: hard times

The Law Of Grace

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 to tell people is that the deeper the sorrow or harder the trial, the greater amount of God’s grace you will experience. God gives us grace sufficient for our trials. When Paul was faced with a trial that God wouldn’t remove after much prayer, God spoke to him in II Corinthians 12:9. He said, “My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]” (AMP).

God gives grace, favor, strength, and mercy according to our need. He knows what we are facing and what we need in order to bear the weight of our situation. You’ve heard of Newton’s Third Law, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” To me, it is the Law of God’s Grace. For every force or trial that comes against you, there is an equal amount of Grace to support you. God gives you enough grace to enable you to stand in times of sorrow and tests.

Paul wrote about this Law of God’s Grace in Ephesians 4:7. He said, “Yet grace (God’s unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and bounteous] gift.” Each of us receive a different portion and type of God’s grace according to our need. It is proportionate to our circumstance and is given as a free gift to us. That grace that God gives is tailor made for us because He knows what we are facing and cares for us.

The greater the trial, the greater the grace. I’ve hit rock bottom in my life, but I’ve never found the bottom of God’s grace. It is deeper than anything you or I will ever face. It will always be sufficient to your need. When you go through deep struggles, you get a glimpse of the depths of God’s grace that few people ever do. The longer you endure hardship, the longer you can remain in the crucible, the deeper your knowledge of God will be and the firmer your trust in Him will be. The Law of God’s Grace proves He will not fail you when you need Him most.

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Leaving The Valley Of Weeping

Every one of us will go through valleys. They’re those dark periods in our lives that are created by the loss of a loved one, the consequence of sin, being hurt by someone we love, an illness or something else. In the valley, it’s natural to want to push everyone away and face it alone, but that’s not God’s plan. That’s when you need those who love you the most to carry you, walk with you and encourage you. Having been there and tried that, I know the reasoning and the lies that get you to believe it. I’ve found that Psalm 84:5-7 give us a blueprint to endure the valley.

Verse 5 says, “Blessed and greatly favored is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion” (AMP). The first thing we have to realize is we shouldn’t try to walk through this time in our own strength. When our strength is weak, His is made perfect in us. We need to rely on God, and the people He’s placed in our lives, to get through this period of darkness. We also need to focus on Him rather than the issue. If we’re not careful, we can go further down into a darker place than we are.

Verse 6 says, “Passing through the Valley of Weeping ( Baca), they make it a place of springs; The early rain also covers it with blessings.” I love this because it’s up to us what we make of the valley experience. Will it be a dry, desolate place or will it be a place of refreshing springs? Are we just trying to push through it or are we learning as we go? God has blessings in the valleys of life if we’re looking for them and we’re turning those times into learning and growing experiences.

Finally, verse 7 says, “They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; Each of them appears before God in Zion.” There is light at the end of the valley because victory is ours when we do these things. You are not alone in this. God sees you, He gives you strength daily and you are on His mind. Don’t push Him or others away on this journey. They provide the strength you need to gain the victory over this period and place in life. The valley isn’t permanent. Weeping in the valley may last for a while, but joy is on the way when we do these things.

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Endure The Test

I saw a sign the other day that said, “If you hadn’t gone through that test, you wouldn’t be as strong right now.” It was a great reminder that the tests we go through produce strength in us that we wouldn’t get any other way. God has a purpose in them. He wants to grow something in us, and often difficult times are the only way to produce it. The problem is that when they come, we usually pray fervently for God to end the test and get us out of it. The truth is that God needs us to endure it if He’s going to be able to finish what He’s trying to do.

A body builder only gets muscles through lifting more than is comfortable. A marathon runner doesn’t build endurance through sprints. You and I don’t become who we are supposed to become without going through difficult times. Your ability to endure will inspire others who will go through it later. Don’t spend your prayer time asking God to get rid of your test. Ask Him to give you the endurance to get through it so He can produce in you what He needs to. Don’t quit. You can do this.

Here are some verses on tests and endurance.

1. Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.

1 Corinthians 10:13 GNT

2. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

James 1:2-4 MSG

3. But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.

Job 23:10 NLT

4. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you.

1 PETER 4:12 AMP

5. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:7 GNT

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All Access Pass

Have you ever met a person that you respected or admired, then got to have a real conversation with them? Then, at the end of the conversation, they gave you their number and said, “If you ever need anything, reach out to me.” I’ve had that happen a few times. I still have their cards, but I can tell you I’ve never called them. I’m too afraid that I’ll be seen as someone who abused the privilege of having access to them. I don’t want them to think I’m bothering them with a stupid request. So I hang onto my key to access them without ever accessing them.

The crazy thing is that many of us have that same attitude when it comes to accessing God. We think He’s got bigger problems to solve than ours. We reason that He doesn’t want to be bothered with our needs. We then try to justify, “He probably wouldn’t answer anyway.” So we hang onto our access to God, but we rarely access Him. I’m here to tell you that Jesus didn’t rip the veil between man and God for us to sit back. He invited us to come boldly into the Throne Room.

1 Corinthians 4:8 says, “You already have more access to God than you can handle” (MSG). Think about that. You and I have more access to God than we can handle. Access that He expects us to use. Whatever failures you point to, God can forgive. Whatever wisdom you need, God can give. Whatever problems you’re facing, God can resolve, but you have to access Him. You can’t just sit back and do nothing. Use your “All Access” badge, get into the Throne Room of Heaven and let God know your request.

God is able to handle the toughest problems of this world and your greatest need at the same time. You don’t need to feel ashamed or timid in approaching Him. His ways are not our ways and His wisdom is not our wisdom so He may answer in an unexpected way. Present your needs to Him without telling Him how to solve them. God is deeply concerned about the things you’re concerned about, and He has the power to resolve them. Don’t believe the lie that you need to leave Him alone. You have the access, now use it.

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Being Shepherded

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.

Psalm 23 has to be the most memorized chapter in the Bible. Like me, you may have memorized it as a child. If you’ve seen any funeral in a movie or TV, you’ve definitely heard it being read. When something like that is ingrained in us, we tend to glaze over it when we hear it. We know we know it, so we don’t really pay attention to what it’s saying. If you stop and think about it, there are some powerful truths just in the first few verses.

In the first verse, we read, “THE Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack” (AMP). Think about that. The Lord watches over you personally like a shepherd watches sheep. He makes sure that you are fed, protected, and on the right path. You have everything you need in Him. There’s no need to panic today because your shepherd is watching over you making sure you have everything you need.

Verse two says, “He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.” God knows we all need times of rest and refreshing. We are constantly on the go, looking for greener pastures. God says to us, “Follow me and I will give you rest.” You don’t have to go looking for them, you just have to be willing to be led by Him. You have to give up your rights and submit to the authority of your shepherd. When you do, you will find the greener pastures and rest you’ve been looking for.

Verse three confirms that by saying, “He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.” Not only does God refresh you, He restores you. He gives back what has been taken from you. He also leads you into the paths of life that please Him. He does all of this not because you’ve done anything. He does it because He loves you and cares for you.

Even if you’ve been the sheep that has gone astray or fought against being shepherded, we know that God loves you enough to find you where you are, in the condition you’re in, to lovingly bring you to the fold. He doesn’t wait for lost sheep to find Him. He’s proactively looking for you because He knows your life will be better with His flock. He will leave 99 to find just one sheep. That’s the kind of shepherd we have. He gives us everything we need, He leads us to restful places, and He restores our lives. We just have to be willing to be a part of His flock and to submit to His shepherding.

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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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Letting Go

The other day, my son was trying to pick up something that was too heavy for him. As he was struggling, I offered to help. He declined and kept trying. Again I offered help, but still he refused. He was determined to move it himself. Finally he asked for help. As I picked it up, he yelled his disapproval. Confused, I asked how he wanted me to help. He said he wanted to hold it, but I had to pick both of them up and carry them. He wanted me to carry the weight, but he wanted to be holding onto it.

I laughed, but I also thought, “How many times do I cry out to God with a heavy load, but want the same thing?” If you’re like me, you find yourself carrying loads that are too heavy for you. God is there wanting to help, but we want credit for carrying it. We want God to help, but we want Him to do it our way. We hold onto our troubles because we’re afraid to let them go, but God wants us to give them to Him. He wants us to release them so He can carry them.

Psalm 55:22 says, “Pile your troubles on GOD’s shoulders— he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out” (MSG). God wants to help us with our heavy loads, but we have to be willing to let go of them if we’re going to cast them on His shoulders. Letting go is the hardest part and it’s why so many of us want Him to carry us while we’re holding on to the troubles. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Let go and let God.” Maybe it’s time we started doing that. He’s more than capable of carrying your troubles if you’ll just let them go.

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