Several years ago the Lord spoke a simple word to me while I was praying. He said, “Prepare.” I replied, “Prepare for what?” Again, all I heard was, “Prepare.” I said, “Lord, if I’m going to prepare, I need to know what to prepare for.” For the third time, He said, “Prepare.” I had breakfast coming up with a pastor friend. I couldn’t wait to discuss what I heard. After our pleasantries, he said, “You know what I heard God say to me the other night? Prepare.” I told him I had heard the same thing. We began to discuss what it meant, but agreed we needed to each spend more time in prayer, in reading the Bible and in holding each other accountable to it.
Preparing is a necessary process in almost everything in life that’s worth anything. The greater the task, the greater the preparation. Think about taking a test. The more significant the test, the greater amount of time you spent preparing for it. Most of the time you had an idea of what could be on the test, but you weren’t sure what the questions were going to be. You needed to prepare for them to ask you anything. Life with God is a lot like that. We need to be prepared to be used in whatever situation He chooses to use us in. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. The on,y way to constantly be ready is to prepare ahead of time what you will say.
Proverbs 24:27 says, “Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house” (NLT). Too often we try to get the cart before the horse. We want the payoff without going through the process, but God’s plan is that you and I prepare for the greater things He has for us by being faithful in the small things. If you’re looking ahead to where God has promised to take you, take time each day to do the little things that will prepare you for that place. This proverb us to plan and prepare how we will be sustained once we get there rather than to focus on how we will stay there. God’s process always involves sowing first and then reaping later. If He’s being slow in keeping His promises, ask Him to tell you what He wants you to do today to prepare for your future.
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One of the things I love to do is to go to the beach. To me there’s something fun about going in up to my waist where the waves are crashing and leaning into them. I start off feeling like I could fight them all day, but after a while, they just keep coming and I get wore out. I’ve had it happen before where I’ve lost my footing. When I would try to get up, a wave would knock me back. Then I get into this cycle of not being able to get back up, and I have to switch into survival mode. The good news is that I’m close to shore and if I can time it right, I can get back up and breathe because it’s not very deep.
We all like to think we are resilient with the ability to bounce back. Life sometimes looks at that determination and says, “Challenge accepted!” None of us are exempt from tragedy, death, sickness, loss of a job, emotional pain, disappointment or devastation. We sometimes get hit over and over with things and have to switch into survival mode. There are times when it feels easier to stay down than to try to get back up, but we can’t stay down. Life is about getting back up. Christianity is about doing it with God’s strength rather than your own. He is our firm foothold in our time of desperation. He is the One who helps us get our head above water.
Proverbs 24:16 says, “For the lovers of God may suffer adversity and stumble seven times, but they will continue to rise over and over again” (TPT). God creates purpose in our suffering and has a way of working it out for our good. When we get back up from being knocked down, we show that our faith is stronger than what gets thrown at us. People also find hope and healing from their situations when they see that someone else survived disaster. By being resilient and getting back up, we show our faith isn’t based on circumstances. The same God who makes you lie down in green pastures and leads you beside the still waters, is the same God who walks with you through the valley of the shadow of death. Don’t stay knocked down by what you’re going through. God is your firm footing and will help you bounce back.
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Almost every woman who has a child can tell you what she craved while she was pregnant. It’s interesting to me to hear some of the things that their bodies were asking for. When my wife was pregnant, I remember the doctor telling us that she may experience cravings for some crazy things including dirt. She said that the body will crave and create intense hunger for the things it needs. There are plenty of husbands who will tell you what time of the night they had to run to the store, and what crazy food they had to get to satisfy their wife’s hunger craving.
I believe our spirit is very similar. It hungers to find God. Inside each of us is the desire to know and understand why we are here and what our purpose is. It creates a holy curiosity that is truly a hunger to know God. The problem many of us experience is that after we find Him, we often dismiss those hunger pains to know Him more. We give into the cravings of the flesh rather than the spirit within us. God’s desire for each of us is to continue to hunger to know Him more. Our spirit’s cravings are not to be ignored. Just like a pregnant woman’s body craves what it’s lacking, so does our spirit.
Here are some Bible verses on hungering for the things of God.
1. You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
Matthew 5:6 MSG
2. Those who hunger for him will always be filled, but the smug and self-satisfied he will send away empty.
Luke 1:53 TPT
3. “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “When I will send hunger over the land, Not hunger for bread or a thirst for water, But rather [a hunger] for hearing the words of the LORD.”
AMOS 8:11 AMP
4. Lovers of God hunger after truth, but those without understanding feast on foolishness and don’t even realize it.
Proverbs 15:14 TPT
5. God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.
Psalm 63:1 MSG
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One of the things I believe each of us must do daily is to choose our attitude. If you don’t choose it, your day will choose it for you. I’ve lived on an emotional roller coaster before, and it’s not very fun. My mood, my happiness and my attitude all depended on how things were going in my life. Unfortunately, my relationship with God was also dependent on that too. If things were going well, then it was easy to praise Him. If things were going poorly, then I didn’t feel I had a reason to bless Him. In fact, many times I ended up mad at Him and making threats if He didn’t make things better.
At one point in my life, I felt like I was going through hardships that were as difficult as Job’s. I was losing everything that I cared about and I was powerless to stop it. I prayed and prayed, but things kept getting worse. I got angry at God and started to blame Him for everything that was wrong in my life. I remember reading Job looking for insight and help. In the first chapter, after he had lost everything, instead of being mad at God, the Bible says he fell to the ground and worshipped God. How could he worship at a time of such loss? I believe it’s because He had chosen his attitude before everything went down.
Psalm 104:33 says, “I will sing my song to the Lord as long as I live! Every day I will sing my praises to God” (TPT). This is a great example of choosing your attitude. The writer committed to sing praise to God every day as long as he lived. I know there are days when you don’t feel like praising, but praise anyway. No matter how bad life gets, God has done enough for you already to deserve praise every day of your life. When you think that way, it’s a lot easier to worship in the middle of a storm. Our gratitude, our attitude and our relationship with God should all be predetermined before bad things happen. We have to remember that no matter what is going on, God can work it out for your good.
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I can’t think of a single person in the Bible who didn’t go through distressful times. Adam and Eve went through the distress of sinning and hid from God. Moses went through it as he led the children of Israel through the desert. David spent years on the run. All the prophets I can think of had problems. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. On and on it goes. If you’re feeling distressed today, it’s ok. You’re not alone even though it feels like it when we’re going through those times. While your circumstances may be unique, the feelings you’re having have been felt by every person who has lived.
I’ve found that times of distress drive me to my knees. They cause me to cry out to God more than ever. In turn, they push me into a closer relationship with Him. I find that when we blame God for our problems, it has the opposite effect. I like to think of being distressed as having sandpaper smoothing out my rough edges. Yes it hurts while I’m going through it, but i know that in the end I’m going to be changed for the better through the process. God’s desire is to make you more and more into His image, but in order to do that, you must be shaped. Sometimes He uses distress to do that. If you’re distressed now, hold on. Things will get better and you will be better for it.
Here are some Bible verses about distress.
1. When the righteous cry [for help], the LORD hears And rescues them from all their distress and troubles.
PSALMS 34:17 AMP
2. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
2 Corinthians 7:10 MSG
3. Are there any believers in your fellowship suffering great hardship and distress? Encourage them to pray! Are there happy, cheerful ones among you? Encourage them to sing out their praises!
James (Jacob) 5:13 TPT
4. Set me free from my distress; then in the assembly of your people I will praise you because of your goodness to me.
Psalm 142:7 GNT
5. But God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes.
Job 36:15 GNT
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Have you ever seen a giant Sequoia tree? They are some of the tallest trees in the world. They’re also some of the fastest growing trees, especially when they’re young. They can grow up to six feet per year. Not only do they grow tall, they also grow wide. These are the trees that you’ve seen pictures of cars driving through them. Their root system is shallow though. It grows out instead of down. They don’t have a tap root. Instead they have thousands of tiny roots that multiply, grow out and around the tree and can cover up to an acre of land.
If you think about it, they’re a lot like our anxious thoughts. Those type of thoughts grow quickly in our mind, they take up a lot of space and infect almost every part of our life. The more we entertain those thoughts, the more they grow. Before you know it, you’ve given up a huge portion of your mind and your life to worrying about things that may or may not happen. Because these thoughts take up so much space, they require a lot to feed them. That’s why they infect every area of your mind as they multiply and grow. The good news is that their root systems are shallow and they can be uprooted.
Psalm 94:19 says, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comforts delight me” (AMP). Spending time in God’s Word, resting in His presence and worshiping Him are all ways you can uproot those anxious thoughts. Colossians 2:7 tell us to let our roots grow down deeply into God. When we do that, our lives won’t be uprooted by anxious thoughts because there is no room for them. When I start to get anxious about things, I have to remember to quit comparing things against my abilities. Instead, I feed myself on God’s Word and compare those same problems to God. I then realize He is greater than whatever I’m facing.
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