Tag Archives: Trials

Give Thanks

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

When is the last time that you stopped what you were doing and truly thanked God for all he’s done for you? In I Thessalonians 5:18, it tells us that no matter what your circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks. Even if nothing seems to be going your way right now, there is reason to give thanks.

Having a thankful heart is a mindset that you have to create. We are not naturally thankful creatures. You need to practice being thankful with others and with God. When you truly make being thankful a part of your life, you will find that your attitude, your outlook and your perspective will change for the better.

Here are some reasons I have found to give thanks.

1. For salvation

Each of us should be eternally grateful for what Jesus did on the cross for us. There is nothing that we could ever do to earn our way to Heaven. It is only because God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins that we have that ability. I don’t have to spend my life hoping and trying to be good enough one day. The price for my sin was paid for by Jesus.

I love how 2 Corinthians 9:15 says it: “Now thanks be to God for His gift, precious beyond telling, His indescribable, inexpressible, free gift!” We have a very good reason to be thankful today. You do not have to spend eternity separated from God if receive His son into your life.

2. For God’s faithfulness

I’m thankful every day that God’s faithfulness doesn’t rely on my own faithfulness. 2 Timothy says that even if we are faithless or are untrue to Him, He remains faithful and true because He cannot deny Himself. What God has promised He will do, He will do no matter what.

One of my favorite promises in scripture is found in Philippians 4:19. I remind myself of this scripture when things aren’t going my way. It says that God will supply all of my needs according to His riches. I often want Him to supply all of my wants, but He has promised to take care of my needs. I have air in my lungs, a place to sleep and food to eat. That is something to be thankful for.

3. For what He has done

How many times have we prayed and asked God for something and He’s done it? Too many to count I’m sure. I often thank Him for the big things when He does them, but what about the little things? Have we thanked Him for a good night’s sleep, help on a test, safe travels or for food to eat? We constantly petition God in prayer and rarely thank Him.

When He healed the 10 lepers in Luke 17, only one came back to thank Him. Jesus asked him where the other 9 were. How was it that only one came back for something as big as a life giving healing? I want to live my life like that one who came back and worshipped Him and thanked Him.

I know it’s hard to do sometimes. I’ve been at points in my life where it seemed I had nothing to be thankful for. The truth is that I had a lot to be thankful for, but I wasn’t looking for it. Wherever you are today, stop and give thanks to God. You will find that it will change you when you live with a grateful heart.

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God Is With You

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.


I love reading Luke 2 throughout the year. I don’t believe the story of Jesus’ birth is just for December. Honestly, what we are celebrating at Christmas, should be celebrated all through the year. The fact that God wrapped Himself in flesh and lived among us is something to celebrate every day, especially when we’re facing mountains in our lives. The prophet Isaiah said the Messiah would be called Emmanuel which is God with us.

I’ve always loved the meaning of that name. God is with us. It’s present tense. It’s not He was with us or He will be with us. He is with us! In difficult times in our lives, we feel alone. We feel the world is against us. Our friends are scarce. Our troubles are compounded. Our stress is through the roof. Our bills are too many and too high. We feel abandoned and afraid. How we feel and what circumstances look like don’t change the fact that God is with us. They don’t push Him away when they’ve pushed everyone else away.

When we’re surrounded by the storm, the waves keep crashing into us and we feel like we’re sinking, He is with us. He isn’t panicking like we are. He knows that things are under control even when they appear not to be. The disciples found themselves in this same situation. They were on a boat in the middle of a fierce storm and they were taking on water. They were terrified until they remembered Emmanuel. “God is with us.” They found Jesus, woke Him up and then He calmed the storm.

Maybe that’s you today. You find yourself in the middle of a storm. Your mind is occupied by all the “what if’s”. You feel as though your life is sinking. Nothing is going as planned. If that’s the case, remember there is no storm He can’t calm. There is nothing that life can throw at you that He can’t turn into good for you. Even if you can’t see it, have faith. It’s especially important in those times that you remember Emmanuel. God is with YOU. And if God is with you, He is for you. When He is for you, who can be against you? 

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What’s Inside


Several years ago, my father in law was about to undergo surgery. To make sure he could handle it, the doctors gave him a stress test for his heart. He failed. They immediately called for an ambulance and sent him to the hospital. When they took a look at his heart, they found several blocked arteries and performed a bypass surgery. The doctor informed us of how serious it was, but assured us that he was better now.

Over and over I’m asked why we as Christians are allowed to endure hardships. I believe that part of it is that we are still under the consequences of Adam’s sin. If only sinners went through hard times, got sick, or died young then people would not choose God based on love. They would follow Him out of fear, and that’s not what God desires. So it rains on the just and the unjust alike. 

Another part of the answer is so we can see what’s inside of us. God already knows, but just like that stress test revealed my father in law’s heart condition, difficult times often reveal what’s inside of us. It proves what we really believe, and also shows any weaknesses we need to correct. Going through difficult times gives us a chance to truly walk out our faith so we can know how much we really trust God.

The great news is that we aren’t left in the stressful situation. Psalm 71:20 says, “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth” (NLT). Like my father in law’s surgeon, God is in the restoration business. He corrects and removes the things that hold us back so we can serve Him better. He brings us back up, out of the depths, so we can share with others the faith we discovered in the hardship. 

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Because I Said So


Because I said so. I have never liked that phrase. Has anyone ever given that to you as an answer when you wanted to know why? I got it all the time as a kid, and it drive me nuts. I’m a person who needs to know why, and that doesn’t give me sufficient information. I probably got a lot of spankings over it too. Eventually I learned to obey my parents without understand why, even if I didn’t like it. 

As an adult, not much has changed I still like to know why. When God asks me to do something I don’t understand or if something happens that I don’t like, I still want to know why. I don’t always get an answer though. I guess that’s better than, “Because I said so,” but at least I don’t get whipped for asking. God is big enough to handle my questions, my frustrations over not understanding and my emotional outbursts. 

Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 says, “Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked? Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life” (NLT). It’s taken me a while to learn to accept not always knowing why. On those times where I don’t understand, I let my trust lie in the fact that God is good and sees a bigger picture than I ever could.

We may not always get the answers we seek from God. When He’s silent, I try to recall all the times in my life when I didn’t understand His plan. When I look back, I can see that He’s always had a plan, and that what He does in my life is bigger than me. If I’ve surrendered my life to Him, then I’ve given Him permission to use it in any way that He sees fit. That includes good things and bad things that I don’t understand. I’m still learning to accept the way He does things, even if He says, “Because I said so.”

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Assumptions 


There’s an exercise I do with people to show how our minds jump to conclusions and we assume. We observe a conversation where a lot of things are left open, and then I ask them questions about it. The group doesn’t know that I’m exposing how their brain works. As I ask the questions, they typically make assumptions. I keep asking questions to get as much detail from them as I can to see how much they’ve made up.

I keep asking questions until someone inevitably says, “I don’t know.” I then go back to what was said and ask, “So what do we really know?” I sometimes have to go through it several times before they get it. Most of the answers they give are based on their assumptions and not on what they know. I then like to ask, “How much of your life is based on what you’re assuming versus what you know?” It’s a heavy question that I usually leave several seconds of silence after while they think.

Job was a righteous man in the Bible. He honored God in all he did and even fell down to worship God when he lost his kids and his wealth. As time went on and he was struck with boils, his friends began to question his integrity. In their conversations back and forth, it’s clear that they make many assumptions about his predicament and how God is doing it to Him. They don’t know that Satan is behind the whole thing and is the one tormenting Job. 

In Job 19:25, Job makes a great statement. He says, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives” (NLT). We may not know why we go through certain things or why things happen, but we can know that our redeemer lives. We can live with assurance that He is in control and our lives are in His hands. We need to stop our assumptions that God is behind everything bad that happens in our lives. We know that it’s the enemy who steals, kills and destroys. It’s God who brings life. So they next time things happen, don’t make decisions based on assumptions. Go with what you know. 

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Moving Forward


There was a period in my life where I fell like I had it worse than Job. I was losing everything in my life, and I was helpless to stop it. I felt like a knife had been put in my chest, pulled down to my waist and all my guts had fallen out. I was knocked down and didn’t want to get back up. I couldn’t see the future or any path forward. It was easier to just stay there and deal with the pain than it was to get back up and to keep moving.

As Christians, quitting shouldn’t be in our vocabulary. Giving up shouldn’t be considered. If we get knocked down six times, we get up seven. I had to remind myself of these things in those dark moments. I had to tell myself that others had it worse than I did and that I needed to start moving forward even if it wasn’t much. Between putting God’s Word in my mind and spending time in prayer, I was able to get back up and move forward. Doing the same, I believe you can find the strength you need to move forward as well.

Here are some Bible verses about not giving up.

1. The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.
Job 17:9 NLT

2. But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV

3. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Galatians 6:9 NLT

4. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.
Proverbs 24:16 MSG

5. The Lord guides us in the way we should go and protects those who please him. If they fall, they will not stay down, because the Lord will help them up.
Psalm 37:23-24 GNT

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Million Dollar Moment


If you were on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”, and you were down to the final question with the Phone a Friend Lifeline left, who would you call? Is there anyone in your life you trust that much when that much pressure is on and so much is at stake? Believe it or not, I imagined that scenario over and over again when the show was popular. Only a couple of people came to mind who had the knowledge and poise to deliver in that moment. 

When you think about it, that’s a lot of trust you’re putting in that individual. When everything is on the line, you’re saying, “I trust this person with my future.” You may or may not be able to think of someone off the top of your head. When Satan appeared in Heaven one day, God asked him what he had been doing. He replied, “I have been walking here and there, roaming around the earth” (NLT). Then in Job 1:8. God said, “Did you notice my servant Job?”

Satan then accused Job of only trusting God because he had been blessed and was protected by God. He asked, “Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it?” God then allowed Satan to take away everything Job had. God trusted Job in that million dollar moment. When so much was at stake, God looked at him and said, “That’s my guy. I trust him.” And if you’ve read the book of Job, you know that when Satan took everything from him, he fell down and blessed God.

I wonder if God would trust me in that moment. Would He trust you? Is our faith based on who God is or is it based on the blessings in our lives? It’s easy to serve God when the blessings are flowing and things are easy. Would we have the same response as Job if we lost everything? Would we be able to drop to our knees and praise Him no matter what? It’s a tough question, but one that must be asked. What would be your response in that million dollar moment? 

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