Tag Archives: struggling

Standing In The Struggle

On a trip to California, I went to Napa Valley because I had been told that it was beautiful. As I drove through it, I was mesmerized by the straight rows of vines going for miles. I decided to pull into a winery and take a tour to learn of their process. One of the things they shared was how good seasons don’t produce good wine. The good wine comes from the years when the vines struggle. There’s something about the fight for water, the digging into the soil and the struggle to stay alive that produces a complex flavor in the grapes, which in turn, makes for a “good year”.

As they spoke, I couldn’t help but correlate that to life. There are good seasons we go through and there are bad seasons. When we look back on our life, it’s the “bad seasons” that produce the most growth in us. That’s when we learn what we’re made of and how strong our faith is. It reminds me of Romans 8:28 that says how God works together all things for our good. The good that He works is often in our life for the long term even though that season is very painful.

In Genesis 37- 41, we read of a 17 year stretch where Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, thrown into prison and was forgotten. After he was restored, he married and had kids. Genesis 42:52 says, “Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief’”. God is able to make you fruitful in the most painful times and places of your life. You must hold onto to His promises, stand strong in your faith and keep believing that He’s working things out for your good.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

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Why God?

A friend of mine told me a story about how when he was a young man, his boss came to him and told him the company had been bought out. He said the new company was going to lay off most of the old employees, but not to worry because he would protect him. When the layoffs came, everything happened just as the boss said. Then a few days later, the boss came back and apologized. He had to let him go. It turns out his boss let go of the new owner’s nephew and was forced to hire him back.My friend was upset. He didn’t have a degree, and his wife was pregnant with their first child.

In moments like these, we normally cry out to God, “What are you doing?” Have you ever had one of those times? Everything points to God allowing you to be crushed, broken and ruined. We wonder where God is and why we have to go through it. The ten sons of Jacob who went to Egypt for food had one of those moments. They had gone to purchase food, but didn’t recognize their own brother they had sold into slavery. They bowed to him just as Joseph had dreamed years earlier.

Joseph didn’t let on that he was their brother. He held one in prison to make sure they came back. Then he had their money returned to them in their bags of grain. When they were a day away, one noticed it. Genesis 42:28 says, “‘Look!’ he exclaimed to his brothers. ‘My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!’ Then their hearts sank. Trembling, they said to each other, ‘What has God done to us?’” (NLT) They couldn’t see that God was actually blessing them.

That brings me back to my friend. Because he got fired, he found a job with a major company. He then got a degree and moved up in the company. He was able to provide for his family more than he would have at his old job. What looked like an end was really a beginning. What looked like a curse was really a blessing. If you’re going through something you don’t understand, don’t be quick to judge God. Give Him time to work things out for your good. He has a pretty good record of blessing His people.

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

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The Bread Of Life


Not long ago, I read the story of a fisherman who was forced to move because of a house fire. In the move, he asked his aunt to hold onto his good luck charm, which he had kept under his bed for over 10 years. He took her a 75 pound pearl that his boat anchor had caught on all those years ago. Each day, he would touch it before going fishing hoping it would bring him luck so he could catch a lot of fish. It turns out, as he’s struggled to make a living for the past ten years, he’s been sleeping over a $100,000,000 pearl! He had no clue what’s its value was as the world’s largest gem quality pearl.

That story reminds me of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6. There were hungry people and it was getting late. The disciples asked if they should spend 200 silver coins to buy food for everyone. That’s when, in verse 38, Jesus asked them, “How much bread do you have?” (GNT) They went to check and came back to tell Him, “Five loaves.” Jesus then had them seat everyone. He broke the bread and the two fish they had, fed all 5,000 men (plus women and children), then took up 12 baskets of leftovers.

When Jesus asked how much bread they had, they had already seen Him heal the blind, raise the dead, cure leprosy, and so much more. In fact, they had just returned from being sent out to the towns and villages performing miracles themselves. They knew the power of God was with Jesus and had flowed through them, but it never crossed their mind to ask for a miracle for a crowd. Until this time, with the exception of the wine in Cana, most miracles had been for individuals. But to me, the question of how much bread they had was a test.

They had more than five loaves. They had the Bread of Life with them and not one of them thought to include Him in the number of loaves of bread. Whenever you add Jesus to whatever you have, you will always have more than enough. We can’t stay in the same mindset they had. We can’t look at physical problems expecting spiritual results unless we are willing to add in the Bread of Life to the equation. We can’t see through blocked roads, huge obstacles, or insurmountable odds because we’ve been keeping Jesus under our bed as a good luck charm. He’s worth more than $100,000,000. He’s the answer to your struggles. Give what you have to Him and watch Him multiply it.

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41 Will Come


Chuck Tate is the author of “41 Will Come”. The theme of the book is: In the Bible, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. But day 41 came, and the rain stopped. The people of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Then year 41 came, and a new generation entered the Promised Land. For 40 days, Goliath bullied Israel and dared anyone to fight him. Day 41 came, and David slew the giant. Do you see the theme? Don’t quit. Don’t give up.

Today’s devotion is my interview with Chuck.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned waiting on your own 41?

The greatest lesson I’ve learned during a season of waiting is to trust God no matter what. That’s the bottom line. Trust Him and His Word, but I’ve also learned to trust His timing. There were periods during my “41” journey where I felt as if someone else’s fingerprints would end up my dream. I was tempted to force doors open (due to being impatient), but in the end, I realized God’s timing is better than mine. His ways are better than my ways.

My favorite chapter is “Rawk Stance” because it reminds us that 41 doesn’t come unless we prepare for it. In your opinion, what’s one of the most important things we can do to prepare for our 41 to come and why?

God will always do His part, but if we aren’t willing to do ours, we will miss out on BIG opportunities. The real answer to this question depends on what we are preparing for. David’s time as a shepherd (and practicing with a sling-shot) served as preparation to fight Goliath. My “practice” time writing and blogging served as preparation for drafting my manuscript. The key is working hard on your craft TODAY so you are prepared to seize every moment of opportunity TOMORROW.

What advice would you give someone who has given up on their 41 like you had at one point?

That it’s never too late to dream again and you are never too old start over. The Scriptures are filled with numerous examples of second chances and new beginnings. You serve a God who doesn’t need to consult with your past when mapping out your future. He saw you doing “good deeds” before you even showed up on Planet Earth. Micah 7:8 says, “Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again.” Get up! Dream again. Start over. 

I don’t know anyone who won’t be moved by the story of your mom’s illness. What is your go to verse to “Word Up” with when you’re waiting on a 41 to come?

While my mom was in the hospital, we clung to Isaiah 53:5 (…by His stripes we were healed). Proverbs 24:10 (If we quit when times are tough, our strength is small) and Habakkuk 2:2 (…though the vision seems delayed. Wait for it!) are my “Go to” verses while waiting!

What’s the coolest “41” story you’ve heard since writing the book?

The following Facebook post about a family waiting on a heart transplant for their baby girl: “God is good! Day 41 at 10:10PM we got the call!! After 40 days & 40 nights God has answered our prayers! We have a heart! They believe it is the perfect heart for our Miela!”

How have periods of waiting for 41 to come shaped your life?

By teaching me patience. Ha! I’m joking, but I’m not joking. The periods of waiting have made me stronger. The Scripture that comes to mind is found in James 1:2-3: …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.

In your mind, who would benefit from reading your book?

Anyone who feels hopeless. Anyone in a season of waiting. Anyone who needs their faith fueled to carry on or dream again. Anyone who wants to learn how to hold on and stand strong right now…or in the future.

If there was only one thing someone reading your book could come away with, what would that be? By the way, there are a ton of things to take away. My book is full of highlighted sentences!

First of all, THANK YOU for the encouragement, Chris! I guess if I could have ONE takeaway, it would be this: God is ALWAYS moving behind the scenes…even when you don’t feel like He is. Don’t quit!

This book was written about the 41 that came when David killed Goliath. Which 41 will your next book be about and why?

Ahhhh, what a great question! The next book I want to write is a 41-day devotional (for individuals and small groups) that shares 41 testimonies (stories) that are a direct result of 41 Will Come. 

I love that you share so many personal stories in the book so that the reader can get to know you. For those who don’t know you, what’s something they need to know about you before they read “41 Will Come”?

That I am an ordinary person who has been given the opportunity to share some extraordinary stories. This is not a “hey, that’s a cool idea for a book” book. This is my life message. This is a book that I have walked out and one that I have lived…and my prayer is for that to come across to the reader. You might cry, you will probably laugh, but I know you will be filled with HOPE.

I know you will be blessed by this book. You can buy it by clicking here. Also, Chuck has agreed to give away a free book to someone who reads this today (9/1/16). To enter, type, “Don’t Quit. Don’t give up. #41WillCome #DevotionsByChris” on either Facebook or Twitter. I’ll randomly choose a winner tomorrow through the hashtag and private message you for a shipping address. 

Follow Chuck Tate on Twitter and check out his website.

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Patient Endurance 

  
Patience. It’s not a word we like very much. We like to have results quickly without having to put in the time and effort. We want answers given to us without us having to dig for them. We want growth without risk, and we want fruit without tending the garden. We’ve heard the saying, “Good things come to those who wait,” but who really wants to wait? We live in a now society where everything is given to us quickly. The temptation is to let our societal speed carry over into our spiritual growth.

Endurance. It’s not something you get in good times. It requires pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of. It takes mental toughness to get it. You have to withstand pressure repeatedly in order to attain it. Giving up can’t be an option if you’re going to increase your endurance. You have to keep your mind on the prize to keep your mind off the struggle of you’re going to build your endurance. It isn’t given to you, it’s earned.

Both of these things are required of us as Christians. The more of God you want to know, the more patience and endurance you’re going to have to have. If we are willing to give up in the struggle, we will miss the blessings God is preparing us for. Hebrews 10:36 says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised” (NLT). When things appear to be going wrong in our life, God is preparing us to receive all He has for us.

We can’t be like Jacob and fight it. In Genesis 42, there was a famine in the land. Jacob sent 10 of his sons to get food in Egypt. Joseph wanted them all there so he pretended to not know them, sent them home with their food, and held one brother captive until they returned with their other brother. Jacob felt like he was being punished when God was just trying to get him to the land of plants. In verse 36, he cried out, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”

If everything is going against you, it’s quite possible that God is actually trying to bless you. Jacob waited a long time before he sent his sons back to get more food and their brother. He could have been living without fear of starvation. He could have had the relationship with his son restored. God was trying to use what appeared to be negative circumstances to move him into a place of blessing. Imagine what God could be trying to do for you in your situation. Work on having patient endurance instead of complaining, and see what God does.

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Knocked Down, but Not Out

A few years ago, life knocked me down. It took the wind out of me when it did. It was hard to do things that were once normal. Everything took effort. An effort that I didn’t have the strength to give. Sometimes just breathing took every ounce of energy I had. It was a tough place to be. I was lying flat on my back wondering how to go on, if I should go on. The easiest thing to do was to give up and stay down.

Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there now. Sometimes life throws some pretty hard hits. It doesn’t seem fair how, why or when things come our way to knock us down and off the path we were on. You didn’t ask for it or deserve it, but it happened anyway. You have to make some pretty tough choices when you’ve been knocked down. Life changing choices.

Here are some choices I made that helped me.

1. Don’t lose heart

The first thing you want to do is to give up. That’s because that’s the easiest choice, but it’s not the right choice. When the wind is knocked out of you, it gets hard to breathe. Life comes crashing down on you and you’re left wondering if you have anything left. You do. It’s in these times that you have to reach down inside you and find who you really are.

In John 14:1, Jesus told the disciples not to lose heart. He told them to believe in and to rely on Him. When we get knocked down, it is a chance for our faith to grow. When you can’t rely on anyone else, rely on God. He’s the one who is there with you even when you can’t see Him. He’s there to give you heart and strength to move on from where you think you will be forever.

2. Stand back up

One of the hardest things to do when you’ve been knocked down is to stand back up. You may not feel like you have the strength to do it, but you do. It’s inside you. You just have to dig deep to find it. Standing back up is an act of courage. It tells life that it may knock you down, but you will not be counted out. You are here to fight. You are here o win.

Proverbs 24:16 says even if you are knocked down 7 times, the godly get back up. No matter how many times you get knocked down, get up one more time. You are able to do it and each time you get up, you are stronger for it. I kept telling myself, ” What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. If I can survive this, I can survive anything.” You can survive this, but you gotta get back up!

3. Move forward

It’s not enough just to stand back up though. You have to take a step forward even if you don’t know what way “forward” is. Staying still can’t be an option. Where you were is where you were knocked down. You have to move past that area of your life o you can recover. There is hope, there is help and there is healing; but you must move forward to get it.

Philippians 3:14 and 4:13 are your new best friends. Read them, repeat them and cling to them. They say, “I press on toward the goal” and “I can do all things through Christ.” Your goal right now is to press on (forward). You can do it by the power and strength of Jesus. Your faith is what will carry you on. Find someone who can help along the way. You are not supposed to do this alone. They may not understand what you’ve been through, but that’s ok. They have the strength you need to move forward.

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Getting peace in your body, mind and soul

I had the privilege several years ago to be able to visit Israel. I traveled all over the country visiting different sites and cities. In each place, I would stop and read from the Bible different passages of scripture that happened in each location. When I would do that, the scripture really became alive to me.

One of the places I visited that made a huge impact on me was the Mount of the Beatitudes. As I sat there reading Matthew 5, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace over me. It was unlike any other peace I had ever felt. My mind, body and spirit were all calm at once. It was amazing.

Scripture tells us that we can have that kind of peace between the three parts.

1. Peace in your mind

This is probably the most desired peace among people. We are caught up in a world that is fast paced and where debts are high. Our minds have so much information to process in such a short period of time that worry quickly sets in. Even through all of that, God wants your mind to have peace.

In John 14:27, Jesus said to not let our hearts be troubled and to stop letting ourselves to get agitated and disturbed because He was leaving His peace with us. When we don’t accept that peace, we allow ourselves to be agitated and disturbed with all the other thoughts that consume us. Put away those thoughts and accept the peace He gave you.

2. Peace in your body

Our bodies can easily grow weary. The days of 9-5 work are over. We now work sun up to sun down and then try to get the kids to practice or to games. We have friendships and relationships that we are also trying to maintain. Our bodies suffer from fatigue and often get sick as a result.

When Jesus healed people, He often told them to go in peace. Through the healing, He was also offering peace to their bodies that had been suffering. Scripture also says that God will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on the Lord. Peace in your mind will lead to peace in your body.

3. Peace in your soul

C. S. Lewis once said that we are not a body with a soul, but a soul with a body. Our soul is who we are. It is what this shell of flesh is around and what will live for eternity. A lot of people live in fear of not knowing where their soul will go once this body dies. When that fear is present, you do not have peace in your inner man. That lack of peace then translates to the rest of your being and then life.

Philippians 4:7 says that God’s peace shall be yours. That peace is a tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ. We can rest assured in our souls once we accept Christ as our savior we have that life. 1 John 5:12,13 say that whoever has the Son has life… I have written these things that you may know you have eternal life. Your soul can have that peace that it needs as well.

No matter what part of you needs peace, you can find it in Jesus. It takes us receiving it though which means we have to push out other things that are preventing it. God’s desire for you is that you have peace in your body, mind and soul. Pray for and accept that peace today and watch how your life changes.

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