Tag Archives: hard times

God Is Good

A friend was telling me about a lady who went to his church. Her son was in his twenties and had started serving the Lord when he passed away unexpectedly. She was devastated over it, but she still tells people how good God is. She was asked, “How can you talk about the goodness of God when you have had such heartache?” She replied, “My circumstances don’t change the goodness of God. Who know what could have happened to my son in the future? Perhaps it was the kindness of the Lord to take him home early.” Her perspective on God is right on and contrary to how so many would feel. Most of us would get bitter towards God or be ad at Him at least. Her story reminds me that o matter what comes my way, God is still good.

Job was a person in the Bible who also experienced great loss. In a matter of minutes he found out that his livestock and animals was stolen taking away his wealth and income. His workers who were planting crops were also attacked and killed taking away his future food security. Then his children were killed by a collapsed house taking away future generations. In that moment, he tore his clothes in grief and dropped to his knees. Instead of cursing God or asking Him “why”, he worshiped God. He reiterated God’s goodness and acknowledged His sovereignty. Even though he didn’t understand why it happened, but he still made sure to keep the proper perspective on things. He came into the world with nothing and he would leave with nothing. God gives and God takes. He then blessed the name of the Lord.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose” (AMP). There are times when your circumstances don’t look good, but God still is good. Things may be a mess right now, but messes are incubators for miracles. Difficult circumstances are the things that God uses to work out His plan in our life and to grow our faith in Him. I don’t know what you’re facing today or what you’re going through, but I do know that God is good and He is working things out for your good through it. Stand on this promise as a firm footing when everything else seems to be slipping away. Be like Job and profess God’s goodness even when it may not feel good.

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Assumptions

There’s an exercise I do with people to show how our minds jump to conclusions and we assume. We observe a conversation where a lot of things are left open, and then I ask them questions about it. The group doesn’t know that I’m exposing how their brain works. As I ask the questions, they typically make assumptions. I keep asking questions to get as much detail from them as I can to see how much they’ve made up.

I keep asking questions until someone inevitably says, “I don’t know.” I then go back to what was said and ask, “So what do we really know?” I sometimes have to go through it several times before they get it. Most of the answers they give are based on their assumptions and not on what they know. I then like to ask, “How much of your life is based on what you’re assuming versus what you know?” It’s a heavy question that I usually leave several seconds of silence after while they think.

Job was a righteous man in the Bible. He honored God in all he did and even fell down to worship God when he lost his kids and his wealth. As time went on and he was struck with boils, his friends began to question his integrity. In their conversations back and forth, it’s clear that they make many assumptions about his predicament and how God is doing it to Him. They don’t know that Satan is behind the whole thing and is the one tormenting Job.

In Job 19:25, Job makes a great statement. He says, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives” (NLT). We may not know why we go through certain things or why things happen, but we can know that our redeemer lives. We can live with assurance that He is in control and our lives are in His hands. We need to stop our assumptions that God is behind everything bad that happens in our lives. We know that it’s the enemy who steals, kills and destroys. It’s God who brings life. So they next time things happen, don’t make decisions based on assumptions. Go with what you know.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Psychological Warfare

Psychological warfare has been used for thousands of years to help win wars. If you remember the first night of Desert Storm, we used shock and awe to overwhelm the Iraqi army. It was a show of strength to win the battle of the mind. I’ve seen army’s drop pamphlets behind enemy lines to disrupt their belief of what they think the truth is. If they can get the people to believe their own government is lying, they’ll fold. I’ve also seen where they used speakers to blast messages 24 hours a day trying to get into their minds. Psychological warfare is real, and it’s intended to influence emotions, thinking, attitudes and behaviors. If those are manipulated, victory is easier.

In Isaiah 36, Jerusalem was surrounded by Assyria. They were the toughest army of the day and they were undefeated. When they showed up in full force, their psychological ware fare was to make their enemies lose heart. Not only that, they would address the people instead of just the king. They understood psychological warfare. In verse 15, their emperor was talking with Jerusalem’s leaders where all could hear. He tried to undermine King Hezekiah and their faith. He said, “And don’t let him (Hezekiah) persuade you to rely on the Lord. Don’t think that the Lord will save you and that he will stop our Assyrian army from capturing your city” (GNT). He then encouraged them to surrender. Thankfully they continued to trust the Lord and God sent the Assyrian army home.

Our enemy comes against you and I the same way. He speaks lies into our minds to get us to doubt God. He’s done it since the Garden of Eden. James 4:7 says, “So then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you.” The key to victory against his mind games and lies that try to get you to quit relying on the Lord begins with submitting to God. Trust that He will not fail you, abandon you or leave you to fight alone. Trust His plan and know that He will work everything out for your good. Then resist the devil’s lies. Combat them with God’s Word the way Jesus did in the desert. When we do that, he has to flee. He has to stop the attack on your life and your mind. Don’t surrender or succumb to the psychological warfare of the devil. God has given you the Helmet of Salvation and the Shield of Faith to resist.

Photo by Monstera:

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Learning From Lessons

Often times, at the end of a lesson, I like to ask the group, “What were your key take aways?” What I really want to know is what they learned and what they’ll implement once they leave. As we go around the room, several people will give the same one. It’s always cool for me when that happens because there was a moment when lots of lightbulbs came on at one moment. They had an epiphany that there is something they’re not doing that’s holding them back, and they need to make a change in that area. If we never have those moments, we’ll keep on doing what we’ve been doing, and there’s little growth in that.

When you and I go through something, I often wonder if God is asking us what our key take aways are. I believe God wants each one of us to learn and grow. We should be constantly moving in the direction He’s leading us into. Along the way, there will be lessons to learn so that we can accomplish something He has for us down the road. God has great plans for each one of us, so we must be ready to learn and adjust along the way. John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, and He must increase,” to explain the change that needs to happen.

David was another person that learned lessons as he transitioned from a shepherd to a king. Before he became king, he shared some key take aways all of us can learn from in Psalm 27:14. He said, “Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you!” (TPT) Because He was able to learn these things and implement them into His life, God was able to exalt him to king. Imagine what God can do in your life if you’re willing to learn what He’s teaching you right now.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko:

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Character Building

Have you ever prayed for patience? What happened? You probably got hit with a bunch of things that tested your patience. Why? Because God doesn’t just give you character qualities. He builds them in you and refined them through His processes. When character is given, it isn’t appreciated. When it’s earned in a fiery trial, it is etched into your being. God knows what makes us tick and what we need to grow and develop. When God builds character in us, we forget that we prayed for it and usually start praying to get out of the refinement process. Both prayers have costly consequences, but only one elevates who we are. Only sticking it out through the hard times, even when you can’t see what God, is doing will build your character.

The story of Joseph has always intrigued me. He didn’t pray for a character trait, but he would need them to fulfill the dream he was given. He was excited about the dream, but didn’t know what it would cost to build and refine his character. He was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and put in prison where he was forgotten. We don’t read where he questioned God or asked Him to stop the troubles. What we see is a man of great character and wisdom on the other side of the process. He forgave his brothers and saved them in the famine. He would have forfeited his destiny had he exited the process.

Psalm 105:17-19 says, “He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet they hurt with shackles; he was put in chains of iron, until the time that his word [of prophecy regarding his brothers] came true, the word of the Lord tested and refined him” (AMP). He was tested and refined during a long season of unfulfilled hope. That’s the same process God uses with you and me. It’s not easy to keep going when you feel forgotten or when your world has fallen apart, but that’s what’s necessary. Character building and refinement are done in times when the promise is yet to be fulfilled. If you’re in one of those times, trust in God’s Word and in His process. He’s working in you and etching it into the very fiber of your being. You will be different when you come out the other side and will have what it takes to fulfill your destiny.

Thanks to Kelly Sikkema @kellysikkema for making this photo available freely on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Redeemed From The Pit

Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of the lowest point in my life. I had been through six months of having the bottom fall out from under me. I went through the death of a friend, a divorce, a repossession, loss of friendships and a lot more. One thing after another seemed to crumble. Everything I held dear was being taken from my life as a result of decisions I had made. Then, on September 25, 2003, my business failed and I was out of a job. It felt like my life was over as I laid down on my living room floor that night. I cried out to God in surrender as the life I built was destroyed by this storm. However, I still had my foundation in Him. I told God I was ready to end my life because I couldn’t do it anymore.

I felt the voice of God remind me that i had built my life with my desires instead of His. I vowed that if He helped me out of that hole, I would build my life His way. I marked my calendar with the words, “The Bottom”. Getting back to where I felt I was at ground level took over a decade. Now it’s almost a decade past that and I can look back and see how far God brought me. It wasn’t easy and the progress has felt slow and minimal. Yet, when I look back, I can see where I’ve been, and now look forward to where He is taking me. It’s not an easy thing to look back, but it’s necessary for all of us. When it feels like we’re on a treadmill going nowhere fast, God is actually working in our life and helping us along the way.

Psalm 103:2-5 says, “Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, And do not forget any of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle” (AMP). God is in the process of redeeming your life from the pit. No matter how deep a hole you feel like you’re in, He can get you out. Remember all the things He has done, knowing He will continue to work out all things for your good. He will satisfy your life with good things once again. Trust in Him no matter how dark it seems. Your pit may be deep, but His grace is deeper still.

Photo by James McGill on Unsplash

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Passing The Test

Whenever I was in school, I remember one teacher who enjoyed giving tests. He would wear a “test tie” on the days he was giving a test, which was really an uncoordinated, loud tie. Sometimes he would wear a red contact lens. Once he opened a bag of chips and started eating them and crinkling the bag during the test. Whenever he gave tests, I made sure I studied because I knew there would be distractions and the test would be more difficult than the other classes. I used flash cards and met with other students to prepare to make sure we passed.

It’s funny that we spend so much time preparing for school tests, but very little time preparing for life’s test. God had so much faith in Job’s ability to pass any test that Satan could give him that he agreed to allow him to be sent through the wringer. Satan even tried to get in his head to distract him with his wife and friends who constantly accused him of wrongdoing. However, Job was prepped for the test, In Job 23:10-11 he says, “But he (God) knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.”

Job put something inside of him that was greater than any test he would face: God’s Word and a determination to stay on God’s Paths. When life tests us and we aren’t prepared, we may be like Job’s wife and friends who wanted to curse God and die. But if we will determine in our hearts to stick with God and trust what He’s doing in our life, we will pass any test that comes our way no matter how many distractions there are. God has enough faith in you to allow you to be tested. It’s time you trusted your faith in what you’ve been taught so you will pass this test.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Choose Joy

I’ve been a sales trainer for a few years, and one thing has been consistent. When some people show up for training, they’re not happy. They want to know if class is really going to take the full time. By the end of class though, many of them change their attitudes. They’ll walk out and say, “Thanks. I didn’t think I needed this, but I learned something.” Our attitude towards training is much like our attitude towards troubles in life. We don’t want them or see a need for them. However, when we’ve made it through them, we find ourselves stronger.

I think James was trying to make that same correlation for us in James 1:2-3. He wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (NLT). Joy is usually the last emotion that I pair with troubles and trials, but James says they’re an opportunity for us to have it.

I’ve said before that joy is not dependent on your circumstances, happiness is. Joy comes from deep within. It looks at your big picture, while happiness looks at the little one. Joy is something you choose to have no matter what. Each of us choose our attitude in our circumstances. If we don’t, our circumstances will choose our attitude for us. In most cases, it chooses the wrong attitude. Choosing Joy gives you the strength to endure whatever comes your way.

The second part of that verse is where we get our Joy from. We don’t look at the current trouble, but the end result. What do trials produce in us? Endurance. Verse 4 says, “So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” If you can train yourself to keep the end in mind, you will learn to handle troubles a lot better. Don’t waste your times of trouble. Use them for what they’re for: growth and endurance. By choosing the wrong attitude, you prolong your time in them, and miss what God has for you. Keep the end in mind, and choose Joy.

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

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.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Finding Joy

Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsy were sent to a German concentration camp during World War II for hiding and smuggling Jews. They were taken to Ravenbruck and faced some pretty inhumane conditions. Women were packed in their barracks stacked on three high bunk beds where they used rotten hay for cushion. The conditions were so unsanitary that it was overrun with lice. Betsy reminded Corrie to be thankful in all circumstances, but Corrie said she’d never be thankful for the life. Her tune changed not long after when her tormentors refused to come in their barracks because of the lice. This provided them the opportunity to pray, read the Bible and share the Gospel. Corrie found a way to be thankful even for lice.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus” (GNT). This trifecta seems impossible at times, especially when we’ve been given life shattering news. However, God isn’t asking us to be thankful for all circumstances. It’s to be thankful in all circumstances. Thankfulness is always possible. It just matters how we look at our circumstances. A thankful heart looks for the goodness of God despite what the current outlook is. It clears all the confusion and the distractions when we turn our focus to God. He is the only one who can give us strength and grace in every circumstance. That is what allows us to pray at all times.

Finally, don’t confuse happiness with joy. Happiness is dependent on your circumstances, joy is not. Happiness is a reaction while joy is a lifestyle born from possessing inner peace that passes all understanding. Joy is your strength to endure whatever you face (Nehemiah 8:10). It is critical in this life and why the author mentioned it first. If you lose your joy, you’ve lost your strength to pray and be thankful because you’ve quit trusting in God. Joy trusts God even when the outcome is unsure and looks unfavorable. God holds your life in His hands. No matter what you face, it will never separate you from His love (Romans 8:38). Joy gives us an eternal perspective in temporary bodies. Because of it, we can keep our eyes on Jesus, pray at all times and find a way to be thankful.

Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized