Tag Archives: hope

Predetermined Praise

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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Distressed

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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Calming Anxious Thoughts

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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The Way Of Suffering

This weekend I had the opportunity to visit the room where the Last Supper took place, walk through the Garden of Gethsemane, visit Caiaphas’ house and then walk down the Via Dolorosa. To walk in the final footsteps of Jesus before His crucifixion can be a moving experience if you can block out all the chaos around you. As I went to each place, I tried to imagine the emotions of Jesus in each place and to feel the tension He must have felt knowing He was leaving the Passover meal a free man to cross the Kidron Valley, but would return a prisoner. It’s a very sobering journey.

As I entered the Church of All Nations at the foot of the Mount of Olives where the Garden of Gethsemane is, I walked around the outskirts of the sanctuary instead of down the middle. The purple glass in the shape of a cross makes sure that the room is lit, but remains dim. I went to the front where there is a rock protruding out of the foundation of the church. I stood outside the barrier as I watched people lay on it and weep. On the barrier were pieces of paper in different languages. I walked around until i found one in English. It had a portion of the Gospel of Luke that ended in Luke 22:46. It said, “Jesus went to the disciples who were sleeping and said, ‘Why are you asleep? Wake up and pray that you won’t be tested.’”

Are you and I like the disciples? Are we awakened to the things God is asking us to do or are we asleep? Do we realize that the moment God has us in right now is in preparation for greater things? God’s plan for you is always good. It may involve some suffering and times of emotional stress. There are times we will walk in darkness so we can share God’s light. The only way to achieve God’s desired outcome in our lives is to pray like Jesus prayed in the darkest time of His life. Luke 22:44 says, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done” (AMP). Submitting to God’s will, even in suffering and pain always yields the greatest outcome.

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Destructive Forces

One of the things I’ve learned is that destruction is part of creation. A volcano is a very destructive force. We’ve all seen videos of molten, hot lava being spewed out of a volcano. Then we see a river of lava flowing down the side burning everything in its path. Eventually that lava dries and then breaks down creating some of the richest soil on earth. When you think of places that have volcanoes, have you ever noticed how green they are? Hawaii and Fiji come to mind. Without their volcanoes, they wouldn’t be as lush as they are. The very things that appear to destroy everything are what really brings life.

In our own lives, the same principle holds true. There are things in our lives that God destroys so that He can bring new life to us. It hurts us when the lava is flowing and taking away everything that seems to matter to us, but God has a plan and a purpose. What looks like total devastation is truly a remarkable new beginning that will create a more fertile life for you. It’s painful going through the times of destruction, and many times we don’t understand why. A friend told me recently that sometimes God does the Omega in our lives before He is the Alpha. He ends things so that He can begin something new.

Proverbs 16:4 says, “The Lord works everything together to accomplish his purpose” (TPT). There is purpose in everything that happens in our lives. God has a plan to redeem, restore and to recreate. He is a gardener who loves to grow things in our lives. The best things in our lives are produced from the richest soil. The richest soil is produced through destructive forces. If you’re going through a period of destruction, hold on to your faith and trust God’s plan. Greater things are coming that will be beautiful in time. God will accomplish His plan for your life. It’s a good plan that is full of life and fertile soil.

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Tested By God

About twenty years ago, I went to purchase a truck. Throughout the process, the salesman would tell me little things about how the different parts of the truck had been tested. One of them I remember clearly was the cloth seats. He showed me a video of how the put blue jeans on a robot arm that rubbed across the seat cloth and pressed down. They said they tested it 250,000 times and the cloth held up. They did this with many parts of the truck. What they were trying to tell me was that this truck was going to last and they knew it because it had been tested and proven.

Believe it or not, God puts you and I through tests. Over and over we go through things that test our mettle, our faith, our endurance and our trust in Him. It’s never fun to go through these times, but they have a purpose. When you go through adversity, no matter how banged up and bruised you are, it gives you the confidence and faith to make it through the next. I heard someone say that they want to arrive at Heaven riding in on fumes, banged up, dented in and exhausted because it would mean they gave life their all and God would have trusted them to go through Hell to bring people out of it. The more you’re tested, the more you can be trusted with greater things.

Here are some Bible verses on being tested by God.

1. Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. 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 1:6-7 GNT

2. Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.

2 TIMOTHY 2:15 AMP

3. God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. Be assured that when we speak to you we’re not after crowd approval—only God approval. Since we’ve been put through that battery of tests, you’re guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you.

1 Thessalonians 2:3-5 MSG

4. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

James 1:3 NLT

5. For You have tested us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.

PSALMS 66:10 AMP

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Trusting God’s Strength

Do you ever feel like you just don’t want to get out and face the day? Those days feel like you don’t have the strength or willpower to deal with whatever is coming. You know you have responsibilities, but that’s not enough to motivate you to get moving. When life isn’t going to plan, and your dreams of what life should be is so far out of reach, it’s easy to feel down and to not have the will to see the light of day. I think those are normal thoughts and feelings, but it’s not a place where we can dwell for very long. If we keep thinking about how bad life is treating us, bitterness can spring up and zap our strength.

Life gets messy and complicated for all of us, but we can’t dwell on what could have been. We can’t even just stay in the same place and just expect God to jump in and make everything better. While David was running from Saul and living in caves, he didn’t just stay in the cave and ask God to deliver him. He did something about it. He even moved away from his home land. By reading the Psalms, we can tell that David felt down and depressed at times because of what was going on in his life. There were times when he didn’t have the strength to keep going. In those moments, he changed what he thought about. He reminded himself about God’s goodness.

Psalm 62:11 is one of those times. He wrote, “God said to me once and for all, ‘All the strength and power you need flows from me!’ And again I heard it clearly said, ‘All the love you need is found in me!’” (TPT) Sometimes we need to remind ourselves where our strength comes from and that we are unconditionally loved even when we don’t feel it. We have to look beyond our temporary circumstances to the divine, never changing characteristics of who God is and put our focus there. He has never abandoned you. He has never forgotten you. He knows what you’re going through, and offers His strength to pull through. You are not defined by this period in your life. Your identity is found in Him alone. Trust His strength, His love and His grace to be sufficient in this time.

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