Tag Archives: lost everything

Building Up Your Inner Self

One thing I know is for certain: Life happens. The comedian Mark Lowry asked the question, “What is life?” He then responded, “Life is a series of emotions, a mountain after a valley, a wife to feed, a husband to clothe, children to raise, a boss to put up with, car notes, taxes, April 15th. Life is life. Christ said, ‘I’ve come to give you life…. more abundant!” He shared that as believers, we aren’t exempt from the things life brings. In fact, we might experience more of it. Our mountains seem to be higher and our valleys lower. It’s important in those times that you have the inner strength to endure what life throws at you.

Jude 1:20-21 says, “But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched. (MSG)” Jude knew we would experience life and he told us to pray in the Holy Spirit. Building your self up to withstand what life brings starts with prayer because prayer keeps us centered with God. It keeps our eyes off of how big our problems are and on how big our God is. In those times, we can keep our arms stretched out in prayer for balance instead of pulled tightly to our side ready for the fall.

Another thing we can do to strengthen our inner man is to have others pray for us. Letting others know that you’re struggling is not a sign of weakness. There are times when we lack the fortitude to face alone what life throws at us. We need other believers who can pray like Paul did for the Ephesian Church in Ephesians 3:16. He said, “I pray that from His (God’s) glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength from His Spirit. (NLT)” Have other believers pray that God would give you strength to endure. When you don’t have the strength to lift your head to Heaven, others do. Allow them to stand in the gap for you.

Finally, remember what God has done for you in the past. Thinking of the times that God has brought you through already will build up your inner strength to get through life’s problems. In Psalm 42:6, the psalmist said, “My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you. (NIV)” He then finishes the Psalm talking to himself saying, “Put your hope in God.” He is the source of our inner strength and in times of weakness, His strength is made perfect. He hasn’t failed you yet and He won’t start now. 

You may not be able to see past what life has in front of you right now, but God can. You may not have the strength to endure it, but God can give it to you. When the waves keep crashing against you, when the valley seems too dark and you’re emotionally drained, God is right there with you. His Word will be a lamp to your feet and light to your path. His presence will surround you in the chaos and give you peace where there is none. You can be centered in Him in the middle of life’s biggest storms because of prayer and hope. Don’t let go. Remember the God you serves I’ll give you strength to endure. 

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My Mentor Job

A friend of mine at “A Mike For Christ” recently asked a question that took me a while to answer. He asked, “Who in the Scriptures besides Jesus teaches you much, whether about God, spirituality, or your own humanity?” I’m not a person who like it when people give me the easy answer, so I don’t like to give the easy answer. A lot of names came to mind when I read the question, but I asked myself, “Which person in the Bible teaches me about all three?” I wondered if there was someone who gave me insight into God, what it means to be spiritual and taught me about my own humanity.

I came up with Job. You may say, “That’s an easy answer. Why didn’t you say Mephibosheth or someone like that?” Job I believe met all three criteria in my own personal life. He taught me a lot about who God is. One of the first things I learned about God is that He doesn’t cause the bad times in my life, but He allows them so that He can prove my faithfulness to Him. Satan went to God and pointed to Job’s righteousness. Satan told God that he only lived that way because of all the blessings. God responded in Job 1:12, “All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence (NLT).

Job also taught me about spiritual things. He proved that you could maintain your integrity in the most difficult of circumstances. Having lost his kids, his possessions, his money and everything precious to him, He fell to his knees and found cause to worship God. When his friends accused him of wrong doing, he did not flinch. When his wife told him to curse God and die, he responded with wisdom, “Shall we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” When he had no reason to hope, to trust or the worship, he did all three because of his foundation found in his relationship with God.

He reminds me of my humanity later on in the book. God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind and asked him some tough questions like, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Do you know where the gates of death are? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons?” I’m reminded that God is in control and my feeble attempts to control my life are pointless. The things that happen can be a consequence of my behavior or they can be from God to prepare me for things that are coming. Either way, God has set them into motion and they are far too great for me to understand even if He answered my question of “Why”.

Job is the oldest book in the Bible and yet it still speaks to me. Every time I read it, I gain insight into who God is and how He sees me. I get challenged to live a life of worship. When hard times hit unexpectedly, they reveal what’s really on the inside. For job, that was worship and integrity. When life’s storms hit my shore, I look to Job for advice and proof that I can survive anything. He was human and he endured Satan’s worst attacks on his life. His humanity was exposed in the storm, but so was his foundation. I want to be that kind of follower of Christ. I want to have that sure of a foundation. I want God to be able to point at me and say, “Have you considered my servant Chris? He is blameless – a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” If Job did it, so can I.

Which person in Scripture does this for you?

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Led Into The Desert

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Have you ever been to a desert? I used to live in Egypt and got to experience the Sahara firsthand. There was sand as far as you could see. The ground was covered with rocks. When the wind would blow, you’d get sand in your eyes. There were very few signs of life when you got out there in it. The desert part of Egypt wasn’t where you wanted to be for very long. That’s why a majority of Egyptians live in the Nile valley near the water source. I started to think about living in the desert when I read Hosea. Chapter 2 verse 14 caught my eye. God said, “I will lead her into the desert.”

He was talking about Israel at the time, but I believe it applies to you and I as well. He was talking of how Israel had strayed from Him. In order to win her back, He was going to lead her to the desert and speak tenderly to her. A desert is a place we usually don’t want to go to. When we are experiencing a spiritual drought, we often say that we’re in the desert. But here, God said He was going to lead them to the desert so He could speak to them. I think that He does that to get us away from all the distractions that keep us from hearing Him.

Our lives are so full of noise from meetings, technologies, TV’s, video games and music that it’s hard to hear God. He desperately wants our attention and to speak with us. To get our attention, sometimes He has to take us to the desert. Instead of listening for His voice, we whine and beg Him to get us out of that place. Instead of understanding there’s a purpose for being in the desert, we try to find our own way out of it. Instead of looking for Him, we complain to others about how hard our life is and how everything is going wrong. The thought never entered our minds that it was God who led us to the desert.

He wants to use those dry times in our lives to speak tenderly to us. When things are going wrong in your life, He wants you to look for Him as a shelter not as a complaint hotline. There is a lot to learn in the desert. Most importantly, there can be growth and the start of new life. In verse 15, God says, “I will return her vineyards to her.” What you’ve lost by going to the desert will be restored to you. It may not be exactly how you expect it. It will be better. What seems like the death of one life is really the birth of a new one. What you lost in the old one, will be restored in the new one. God leads us to the desert to destroy the things that hold us back and then restores the things that will renew our love for Him.

Maybe you’re in that desert today thinking God is punishing you. Maybe you’ve been complaining because of how tough things are. Maybe you’re at the point of giving up. If you’re there, consider that God has led you to this desert to remove what needed to be gone and to restore what He wants in your life. Yes, the removal part hurts. It’s a long, drawn out, painful process at times. Your day of restoration is coming. I want to leave you with the last words of verse 15. God said He would “transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” Your restoration and transformation are on the way.

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