Tag Archives: hard times

A Confident Warrior

One of the misconceptions many of us believe is that when God is with us and for us, we won’t experience bad things. It can be quite a shock when we go through a very long season of difficulties. We question our faith, we question what’s going on and we question God. Almost every time, there are no answers. I remember crying out, “God, where are you? If you’re with me, why is this happening?” I didn’t get any answers, but I did find out that God’s Grace is deeper than any trouble I went through. It was sufficient to carry me through the darkest times.

In Judges 6, Israel was constantly being attacked by the Midianites for seven years. When Israel’s crops would start to grow, the Midianites would come destroy them. They stole their livestock as well so that Israel was without food and became impoverished. Israelites lived in constant fear because of it. That’s when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and called him a mighty warrior saying God was with him. In verse 13 he replied, “‘Sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites’” (NLT). He didn’t get answer, but he did get a mission to deliver Israel.

Even when we face the longest, darkest struggles, we have God’s promise to never leave us. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God, the Lord himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you” (GNT). It’s hard to be confident in those times. Gideon wasn’t, but God called out the confident warrior in him. There’s a confident warrior in you too. You are able to face any struggle, fight every battle and survive any difficult season because God is with you. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Don’t back down or lose hope now. Be determined and confident in Him. He will not fail you or go back on His promises.

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Blessing God No Matter What

Have you ever had to make a volcano for school? It’s a pretty simple project to do. I like to use a small jar and then build the volcano around it. Once you’re done with that, it’s time to create the lava. The simplest thing to do is put baking soda in the jar, add a few drops of red food coloring and then pour in some vinegar. It’s not a crazy explosion, but what’s in the jar will come out. The same is true when we go through a difficult time. What on the inside of you will come out. How do you react to difficult situations? What do you say when you’re hurting mentally, physically or emotionally?

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas cast a demon out of a girl who had taunted them for days. When the demon came out, so did her ability to tell fortunes and her ability to make money for her owners. They became angry, got some soldiers and a crowd and made accusations against Paul and Silas. Without a court hearing their case, the guards stripped them, beat them and put them in a dungeon. Their shackles were placed around their arms and legs, holding them in a painful position that prevented them from sleeping. Instead of cursing or demanding that they were innocent, they began to pray and sing praises to God. Verse 25 says the prisoners were listening intently to them when God sent an earthquake that unlocked every prisoner’s shackles.

Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (AMP). Like Paul and Silas, we have a choice to seek sympathy, to demand we were wronged, or we can bless God knowing He’s in control. Other people around us are intently listening to us and our reaction when bad things happen. How you react could set them free or keep them bound up. It’s not easy to bless and praise God in the midnight hour when you’re bound up and in pain, but it is the appropriate response as a believer. He has the power to heal you, to restore you and to vindicate you. It may not happen immediately like it did for Paul and Silas, but it will happen.

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Provision In The Desert

In the Bible the desert was used as a place for refinement, testing and growth. Matthew 4:1 tells us that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert. In Exodus the glory of God led the Israelites into the desert. If you find yourself wandering through a dry season in your life, take heart. God is doing something in your life to make you more like Him or to have you learn to depend on Him more. He hasn’t abandoned you or left you there forever. Instead, just like He did for others in the desert, He makes it a place where He provides and does the miraculous.

Here are some Bible verses on God’s provision in the desert.

1. I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.

Isaiah 41:18 NLT

2. They were not thirsty when he led them through the desert. He divided the rock, and water gushed out for them to drink.

Isaiah 48:21 NLT

3. God reveals himself when he makes the fault lines quake, shaking deserts, speaking his voice.

Psalms 29:8 TPT

4. He found him in a desert land, In the howling wasteland of a wilderness; He kept circling him, He took care of him, He protected him as the apple of His eye.

Deuteronomy 32:10 AMP

5. I took care of you in a dry, desert land.

Hosea 13:5 GNT

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Too Much To Handle

I saw a lady this weekend wearing a shirt that said something to the effect of, “If God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, He must think I’m Wonder Woman.” She’s being a bit facetious, but also a bit snarky. When we’re facing circumstances that we can’t handle and it seems to be a constant barrage of things, it’s normal to wonder what God’s doing and if He even cares. It can lead us to wonder if He’s even aware of what we’re facing, what we did to make Him mad at us and what do we gotta do to get His attention to make it stop. I believe this is what this woman’s shirt was conveying and what many of us feel in similar circumstances.

Job felt this way. Yes, when he lost everything, he bowed in worship. However, the rest of the book is him trying to get God’s attention. Here’s a sample of Job speaking of his anguish in Job 30, “I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look. You have become cruel toward me. You use your power to persecute me. You throw me into the whirlwind and destroy me in the storm” (NLT). He didn’t understand what was going on behind the scenes. He didn’t know that God was allowing him to be tested to prove his faithfulness. Yet he spoke out wondering if God even knew what was going on. It’s the same feelings we feel in difficult times, but we must trust God’s Word over our feelings.

Psalm 31:7 says, “I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.” David made a choice to be glad and to rejoice in God’s unfailing love despite his circumstances or feelings. He understood that God is aware and active in his circumstances. He was also aware that there are things he can’t see or know, but trusted in God’s plan despite what he was facing. It’s a lesson each of us need to remember when we’re facing more than we can handle. The Bible never says that God won’t give you more than you can handle, but it does say that He sees what you’re going through, He cares about the anguish you’re feeling and that His grace will be sufficient. Trust His Word instead of your feelings and circumstances.

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Peace In God’s Presence

Peace is something that I think is misunderstood at times. We like to think it’s the opposite of problems and stresses in life, but it’s more than that. It comes from relying on and being in God’s presence during those times. Our enemy wants us to blame God for our problems so that we run from Him and the peace He offers during the chaotic times of life. He knows that when we blame God, and lack peace, chaos can have its way and begin to ruin our relationship with our creator. Thankfully, even in those times, God continues to reach out to us to pull us closer to Him.

In Job 16, Job had been arguing with his friends. They had turned his heart from the worship we saw when the chaos in his life began. Instead of worship, he began to blame. In verse 7 Job says, “But now God has exhausted me. You [O Lord] have destroyed all my family and my household” (AMP). He was still maintaining his innocence, but had began to blame God which led to him questioning God. Thankfully, this book pulls the veil back a bit so that we can see what was really going on so that we can understand it’s not God causing the chaos, even though He may allow it. Like Job ended up doing, we must ultimately draw closer to God when our life gets turned upside down.

Psalm 91:1 has been referred to as our 911. It’s what we’re to do when things happen in our lives that’s more than we can bear. It says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].” Not only will we remain secure when we run to God during the chaotic times of our lives, but we will find rest from the peace He offers. The enemy may be able to touch your body, your family, your job and your way of living, but when you run to God’s presence, he can’t touch your peace. He can’t touch your soul. Trust in God who brings you abundant life while the enemy tries to steal, kill and destroy everything in your life. You’ll find peace and rest that are beyond understanding.

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Peace In The Chaos

Do you ever get stressed out? When I do, it’s usually when I’m in a time crunch to get things done or when things are happening beyond my control. I used to get stressed out over many things and would let my mind run wild with all the possibilities of a situation. Then one day a friend noticed I was worked up and asked me, “Do you think this caught God by surprise or do you think He knew it would happen? If He knew it was going to happen then you don’t need to be worked up about it. Accept His peace, listen for His voice and let Him do in you what He wants to do.” Ever since then, when things start happening beyond my control, I remember those words and let His peace come in.

I’m reminded of when the disciples were in the boat and the storm blew in. There was chaos all around them, the boat was taking on water and they were considering abandoning ship. Jesus was asleep in the back while they were stressing out. When they finally went to Him, He spoke peace into the storm and it calmed down. Later, as Jesus was about to die on the cross, He was preparing them for the chaos and storm they were about to endure. In John 14:27 He said, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge]” (AMP).

Jesus knew we were going to have chaos in our lives and have challenging situations that would cause us to stress out. He commanded us to not let our minds run wild or to be afraid of the outcome. Instead, we are to remember that the one who spoke peace into the storm is not unaware of what you’re going through. Sometimes He calms the storm and other times He calms us. Knowing He’s in control and is aware of what’s going on should give you peace. He’s continually working in our lives and that means there will be uncomfortable moments and challenges. Let His peace calm you in those times and give you strength for the challenge.

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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.

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Producing Endurance

Merrimack-Webster’s dictionary says that endurance is the ability to withstand hardship or adversity. The on,y way to get endurance is to go through hardship or adversity though. As believers, we’re going to experience those things because God uses them to produce in us things that can’t be produced any other way. Instead of running from hardship and adversity, we are to embrace them because it’s a sign that God is working on us and in us. It’s His process to receive His promises. The greater the hardships you have to endure, the greater things God will produce in you. Hand in there. He’s doing something amazing in you.

Here are some Bible verses on endurance.

1. Stand firm with patient endurance and you will find your souls’ deliverance.

Luke 21:19 TPT

2. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy.

Colossians 1:11 NLT

3. For you have need of patient endurance [to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising], so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised.

Hebrews 10:36 AMP

4. For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up in you the power of endurance.

James (Jacob) 1:3 TPT

5. We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance,

Romans 5:3 GNT

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Don’t Fall Alone

One night I got a call from a friend’s wife. When I answered, I heard, “See if you can talk some sense into him!” I could hear him crying before he grabbed the phone. He was spiraling downhill and couldn’t stop. For days he had not been able to pull out of this depression and it was reaching the point of no return. I grabbed my keys as I kept him talking while I drove to his house. After about an hour of talking, he pulled up out of it. After a few days, he called back to thanks me, but was upset that I was called. I explained that friends aren’t just there in the good times. They’re there to help us when we’re low and can’t break free too.

The Bible is full of friendships, and when we think of them, Jonathan and David too the list. However, one of the friendships that has always stood out tome is Job’s three friends. I know they didn’t give him good advice, but I love that when they heard what he was going through, they showed up. I also love what Job 2:13 says. “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words” (NLT). Sometimes you just need someone to be present with you instead of words. People like that, who show up in the most desperate times, save lives without having to say a word. Their presence let’s you know you’re not alone. No words needed.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Don’t let pride stand in your way when you need the presence of a friend. Don’t let your pain or embarrassment keep you from reaching out. Every one of us have low moments in life when we need the help of someone to pull us up. Make sure you take time to identify those people in your life who can help you in the low times. Let them know now that they are the person you will call. They don’t have to have a degree in counseling. They don’t have to have all the answers or the right words. They just need to be present so you don’t fall alone.

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Finding Peace In Problems

I remember growing up in church watching people equate hardships to being out of God’s will. There was a family that joined our church’s ministry staff, and they seemed to run into problem after problem. Their car broke down, their house had issues and so on. I remember standing in their living room hearing the father say, “We must have missed God. He’s trying to tell us this isn’t where we’re supposed to be. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having so many issues.” I was shocked. I thought they were a perfect fit for what we needed. They used Jonah as an example of why things were going badly. I could have bought it if they had gone the opposite of where they felt God calling them. I tried to explain that hardships and problems don’t mean you’re not in God’s will.

David was a person whom God had anointed to be king. He was in God’s will as he waited to ascend to the throne. He didn’t try to kill Saul and take it before God gave it to him. Yet, somehow, he was on the run for years. He fled Israel to get away. He had to pretend to be insane so the Philistine king wouldn’t kill him. He then ended up in the cave of Adullum. It was a dark time in his life. 1 Samuel 22:2 says, “Everyone who was suffering hardship, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. There were about four hundred men with him” (AMP). Instead of being sent angels or people to comfort him, God sent people who were going through the same thing. That’s not what he pictured when he thought of being king, but that’s what God had in mind to prepare him for the throne.

In that cave, David wrote Psalm 34. Verse 19 is one of my favorites in this chapter. It says, “Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, But the Lord rescues him from them all.” You and I are not promised sunshine and rainbows in God’s will. We’re going to face difficulties. We’re going to be in some dark caves so to speak. God doesn’t promise us a life without hardship and pain. Instead, He promises to rescue us from the cave and those problems. Also, the answer may not look like what you think it should. God knows where we are, what we’re facing and what we need. Cry out to Him, listen for His voice and follow where He leads. His will isn’t a place of perfect peace. It’s a place where we have peace no matter what we’re facing.

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The Place Of Preparation

The story of Joseph in Genesis is one of my favorites. As a late teenager, his brothers beat him up, threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery. The brothers told their dad that he was killed by wild animals. God was with Joseph through the trials he endured giving him favor with the people he met. Things were going well with Potiphar, but his wife wanted Joseph. When he refused her, she accused him of trying to rape her. Without a trial he was sent to prison for life. Many years later the pharaoh’s wine bearer and baker joined him in prison. For a long time, Joseph waited on them. They both had a dream one night, Joseph interpreted them and they came true. It was two more years before Joseph would be freed from prison and placed second in command to pharaoh.

After nearly twenty years since his brothers sold him, they traveled to Egypt looking for food. Joseph recognized them, but they didn’t recognize him. They were hungry and out of options. They begged Joseph for food, but we’re treated harshly by him. After accusing them of being spies Joseph put them in prison for three days. He released all but one as an incentive to get them to bring their other brother to Egypt. When Jacob found out, he was distraught. In Genesis 40:36 he said, “You have bereaved me [by causing the loss] of my children. Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin [from me]. All these things are [working] against me” (AMP).

Many times as God is working out His plan in our life, things appear to be working against you. For years nothing seemed to be going right for Joseph. For years Jacob grieved his son and then ran out of food. In those moments, the feelings of doubt, fear and that everything is against you are normal. In the case of Joseph and Jacob, they were in a place of preparation. We don’t see them curse God or even question Him. I’m sure they spent many sleepless night crying out to God wondering why. However silent God might have been, they stayed faithful in that place and God honored it. He honors our faithfulness as well. The place of preparation can be dark, lonely and hopeless, but while everything seems to be working against you, God is working things out for your good.

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