Tag Archives: trusting God

Hoping In The Lord

My father in law loves watching Animal Planet and other shows about nature. There’s something fascinating to him about the shows where they narrate a lion stalking it’s prey. The animals travel in heards as they search for water, but are unknowingly being followed. When the lion shows itself, fear breaks out. Most animals stay together as they run in fear, but several scatter and peel off from the heard. One thing I’ve noticed about these shows is that the lion never goes after those that stay with the heard. He always goes after those who let fear cause them to be alone. I find myself rooting for the underdog in those situations hoping they find their way back to the heard. Unfortunately the lion almost always wins because fear causes the prey to make the wrong decisions.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the devil roams the earth like a lion seeking people to devour. He uses the same tactics real lions use: stalking, fear, intimidation and loneliness. I see this pandemic as a way of trying to separate people from the heard and to instill fear in people causing them to make poor choices. Fear does not come from God. Hope does. He has plans for us that give us hope and a future, but we can’t be ruled by fear. Even though this looks never ending, we must continually put our hope in the Lord and stay closely connected to the Body of Believers. The enemy wants to sift us the way he wanted to separate Peter. God is faithful and He’s working everything out for our good, so we must continue to hope and trust in Him.

Here are some Bible verses on placing our hope in the Lord.

1. Be strong, be courageous, all you that hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 GNT

2. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.

Lamentations 3:21-22 NLT

3. Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.

Romans 12:12 GNT

4. So then, my soul, why would you be depressed? Why would you sink into despair? Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior. For no matter what, I will still sing with praise, for living before his face is my saving grace!

Psalms 42:5 TPT

5. So it is impossible for God to lie for we know that his promise and his vow will never change! And now we have run into his heart to hide ourselves in his faithfulness. This is where we find his strength and comfort, for he empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time—an unshakeable hope! We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat which sits in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold, and where Jesus, our forerunner, has gone in before us. He is now and forever our royal Priest like Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6:18-20 TPT

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Perfect Peace

After months of social distancing, my 9 year old has had enough. He was frustrated last week and asked, “Why is everyone obsessed with COVID-19?” I explained that this is something new to the world and is affecting everyone. It’s causing some stores to close, and the ones that remain open have shorter hours. Businesses have shut down, people have lost their jobs and don’t know how to support their family. I also explained that no one knows how long this will last, and that the unknown causes fear. When people are afraid, they try to consume knowledge, but no one knows what information to trust because there’s a lot of misinformation out there. I said, “Because of all of those things, it appears to you that they’re obsessed with COVID, but really it’s just fear causing confusion and it shows up in people in different ways.”

Fear has been at work since the beginning. Adam and Eve were afraid that God was lying to them about the tree. Fear robs us of peace and does it’s best to distract us with the mindset that we can beat it with information. 24-hour news stations try to meet that need for people to have the most up to date information and often report things before they’re vetted. It’s easy to get addicted to the news and not realize that you’re feeding fear as it’s compelling you to keep watching. Internal peace is hard to find in an uncertain world, but it is possible. You won’t find it in the news, on the internet or from your favorite podcast. The only peace that overcomes the fear of the unknown is the kind that Jesus promised us.

John 14:27 says, “I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” (TPT) Perfect peace is what we as believers have been given, but many of us have allowed ourselves to be robbed of it. We have yielded to fear and allowed ourselves to be troubled in this uncertain time. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take precautions or follow guidelines, but don’t let fear dictate our every move. The world is full of fear and we have the antidote with the Good News. God is still in control. He is still on His throne and has not abandoned us. Trust in Him, be courageous and yield to the Prince of Peace. I don’t need to know everything about COVID-19. I only need to know the One who holds my tomorrow in His hands and put my trust in Him to find peace in this troubled time.

Thanks to @Elijah_sad for making this photo available freely on @unsplash

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Godly Confidence

Almost every time I get on stage for work or church, I get nervous. What if I mess up? What if I don’t say things just right? I begin to doubt and my palms start to get sweaty. What if I drop the microphone? I’ve learned to step outside the room by myself to give myself a pep talk. I answer those questions with positive statements about myself and my abilities. I do it until I’m either out of time or until I’m full of confidence. I then march into the room with my head held high, ready to take on the challenge. Confidence is what gives me the strength to push through the doubts and questions in order to trust what I’ve done hundreds of times.

Stepping out in faith feels very similar. No matter how many times we do it, those questions echo in our mind. What if God doesn’t show up this time? What if He leaves you out here by yourself? What if this fails? The best thing to do is to go to God’s Word for a pep talk. Look at His character since the beginning. See how He delivered ordinary people extraordinarily. The Word of God should give each of us confidence to overcome our doubts, to get our game face on and to push past fear. I’ve found that you just need enough confidence to push past the initial fear. After that, momentum and faith can carry you to the finish line.

Here are some Bible verses on God giving confidence.

1. You will not be subject to terror, for it will not terrify you. Nor will the disrespectful be able to push you aside, because God is your confidence in times of crisis, keeping your heart at rest in every situation.

Proverbs 3:25-26 TPT

2. Lord, never forget the promises you’ve made to me, for they are my hope and confidence.

Psalms 119:49 TPT

3. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!”

Psalms 91:2 AMP

4. But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

Jeremiah 17:7 NLT

5. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.

Romans 15:13 AMP

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The Valley Of Blessing

In 2 Chronicles 20, several armies declared war against King Jehoshaphat at the same time. It says he was terrified when he heard the news. He immediately began to beg The Lord for guidance and asked everyone to fast and pray with him. The people came to Jerusalem to pray with him and to be ready to fight this vast army that had risen up against them. While they were praying, a man spoke up and said, “Don’t be afraid! The battle is not yours, but God’s.” He also told the people they were to march out to the battlefield, but that they wouldn’t even have to fight.

When they showed up to the battlefield, the other armies had been fighting each other and not one was left alive. The Israelites walked through the valley and gathered up all the spoils. It took them three days to collect it all. On the fourth day, they decided to call that place the Valley of Blessing. After that, no other armies wanted to face Israel and the story ends with, “Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.” Not only had God fought his battle and given him the spoils, He gave him peace and rest.

When I think of valleys, I don’t think of blessings. I think of difficult times, dark times, hard times, wandering aimlessly, and pain. What I see in this story is that God can take our valleys and turn them into blessings. We don’t have to be terrified of them because the battles that we face there are not ours, but God’s. He is the one who goes before us. He’s the one who fights on our behalf. We look at the odds and think, “There’s no way.” God looks at the odds and think, “Nothing is impossible for me.”

I like that King Jehoshaphat had the people meet him in Jerusalem. The very name of that city means “God will see to it”. They were reminded of that while they were praying and fasting about what to do in the valley. They knew they were out numbered. They knew there was no way for them to win the battle. Fear had taken over. In the middle of all that anxiety, God reminded them that He would see to it. All they had to do was show up ready to fight. When they acted in obedience to the Word of God, their enemies were defeated and they gathered the spoils. What should have been a valley of defeat turned into a valley of blessing.

You don’t have to be afraid of whatever valley you’re facing today. God sees that the odds are against you. He sees the impossibility of your situation. He wants you to turn to Him in prayer so He can remind you that He will see to it. He will be the one who goes before you. He will be the one who says, “This is my battle not yours. Show up for the fight and watch what I do.” As verse 20 says, “Believe in The Lord your God and you will be able to stand firm.” No matter what enemy rises up against you, God will see to it that the place you are afraid of will be turned into a valley of blessing.

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

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Becoming Christlike

A book on spiritual growth that I’m reading discusses the different stages we go through as believers. There are two different places that mature believers fall into. Both look very similar on paper and in actions, but there is a huge gap between them. In both stages the believer has the spiritual disciplines of reading the Bible, praying, fasting, sharing their faith, serving others, seeking God and hearing His voice. However, the thing that creates the biggest gap between a person who is close to Christ and Christlike is how they run their life. A person who is close to Christ seeks God for direction in their life, but is still at the steering wheel determining to obey or not. The person who is Christ-like gets out of the driver’s seat and fully trusts God to guide their life. On paper it looks like a minimal difference, but in reality, it’s a huge gap.

In Mark 8:34 Jesus said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am” (MSG). It’s a pretty serious statement He made to us, but it’s what He desires from each of us. He’s not going to come in and wreck your life, but He is going to want full control of it. He made this statement immediately after having to rebuke Peter. A few verses before, Peter famously declared that he understood Jesus was the Messiah and savior. He was a believer, but then when Jesus talked about being killed, Peter took Him aside and reprimanded Jesus because that’s not the way he thought things should go. Peter is representative of those who are close to Christ in this incident. We argue with Jesus when His plan doesn’t make sense and then choose to do our own thing. Think about that. He knew Jesus was God the Messiah, yet he reprimanded Him.

Just like a Peter, you and I must get to the place where we quit trying to call the shots for our lives. We can’t be the ones who reprimand and argue with a God when we don’t like what He’s asking of us. If we find ourselves in that position, we haven’t fully let Jesus get in the driver’s seat. It doesn’t mean we’re not moving in that direction or we’re bad people. It just means there’s room for growth. Each one of us are called to continue moving and growing into a person that fully trusts God with our lives. It’s a hard thing to do, but it’s also what He’s asking of us. Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from knowing God more. When we accept Jesus, we begin the process of letting go of what’s important to us and begin to embrace what’s important to God. Just like Peter, we’re going to experience some bumps along the road, but if we keep moving closer to Jesus, we will become more and more Christlike.

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Today’s Doubting Thomas

Most of us know the story of Thomas after Jesus was resurrected. Other disciples had seen Jesus but he had not. They kept telling him that Jesus was alive, but he knew what he had seen. He watched as they beat Jesus with a whip that had 9 strands on it with chunks of glass. He saw them put the crown of thorns on His head and then nailed His hands and feet to that splintered wood. He was even there when the soldier took a sword and rammed it through the ribs of Jesus. He heard Jesus say, “It is finished.” You couldn’t tell him that Jesus was alive after that.

Can you blame him? It’s easy to sit here two millenniums away and call him “Doubting Thomas”. Would you or I have been any different? Are we any different now? Thomas allowed circumstances to dictate his faith. He had also walked with Jesus and watched as He healed people with leprosy, issues of blood, lameness, mutism, deafness and all kinds of incurable diseases. He even watched on a few occasions as Jesus raised people from the dead. Yet here he was listening to others as they said they had seen Jesus.

Many of us have walked with Jesus too. We have seen what He has done in our lives, can point to healings that we’ve witnessed and watched as The Lord touches the hearts of the worst among us yet we still don’t fully trust in Him. We allow circumstances and things going on in this world to rob us of our joy, hope and faith. Our faith rises and falls on what happens around us. It is far too easy to forget what God has done in the past when there is a mountain ahead.

It’s no wonder that Thomas uttered the famous words, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side.” We do the same. We just say it different. “God if you’re really there and if you can really hear me, I need you to do…” It’s a good thing that God is patient with us. When Jesus saw Thomas, He didn’t mock him or ask why he didn’t believe. Instead, Jesus walked up to Thomas and gently said, “Thomas, put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (John 20:27 NLT)

I think that’s what Jesus would say to us today. Don’t be faithless any longer. Don’t allow what you’re going through cause you to forget what He’s done for you in the past. He is patient and kind. Slow to anger. He is talking to you this morning and is inviting you to trust Him. He is in control even when it doesn’t feel like. He sees you where you are and knows your fear. He is deeply concerned about you and wants to show Himself to you and to provide the opportunity for you to touch Him. Thomas had to reach out and touch Him to believe again. Will you reach out today to touch Him in order to believe again?

Throwback Thursday is a 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.

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Finding Strength In The Lord

One of the Bible Verses I memorized as a kid in song form has helped me through some pretty tough times. If you grew up in church, you probably know this little song too from Nehemiah 8:10. In some of my most painful, sleepless nights, I’ve laid in bed singing, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” When I’m too mentally tired to fight any more or begin to feel defeated or overwhelmed, I sing this little song to remind myself that I can’t win the battles I’m facing in my own strength. I need God’s help and His strength in the toughest of times. I can have tears streaming down my face and begin to look for God’s joy that’s not circumstantial. He gives strength in our weakness and helps us to rise up like eagles, to keep running and not grow weary and to walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Another promise to us who find our strength in the Lord comes from Psalm 84:5-6. It says, “How enriched are they who find their strength in the Lord; within their hearts are the highways of holiness! Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain. He gives to them a brook of blessing filled from the rain of an outpouring” (TPT). Each of go through the valley of tears in our lives. Some of us spend longer times in that valley, but we’re encouraged to keep looking to the Lord for strength during these times to stay renewed and to keep us moving forward, especially when we feel we have nothing left in the tank. God wants us to dig deeper inside to find those pools of refreshing through our pain and sorrow.

The brook of blessing refreshes us in the valley. It gives us hope that God still sees us and hasn’t forgotten us in those dark times. He reminds us that we are His and He’s giving us the chance to experience the depths of grace most people will never know because they only see the pain. But we have a peace that passes understanding knowing that our trials produce endurance, character, and a hope that will not leave us disappointed (Romans 5:3-5). We also know that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), but we have to look past the pain to see that He is doing something in us that can’t be done any other way. He’s showing us we are capable of enduring anything when we find our strength, hope and joy in Him.

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Greater Than Worry

Worry. It’s something that everyone deals with. Whether it’s about paying the bills this month, will we find true love, the end result of an illness, or any number of things, we all worry. I love that dictionary.com defines worry as, “To torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts.” Worry is nothing more than self torture. It’s allowing our mind to put us into a debilitating prison where our mind thinks of every negative thing that may happen in a situation. Worry only looks at the negative outcomes.

If you’re a worrier, take heart. God wants to free you from that torment. 1 John 3:20 says, “God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves” (MSG). Not only does He know you better than you know yourself, He knows your future. There is nothing that is going to happen to you that He doesn’t already know about. I learned several years ago to trust that worrying didn’t solve the problem or change the future, so I began to hand my worry to Him.

I Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). I admit it was difficult to learn to hand them off to Him because I didn’t know what to think about or do since all I knew was worry. But that’s where Philippians 4:6 came into play. It says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (MSG).

Worry never changed the outcome of anything, but prayer has! Quit tormenting yourself and start praying to God about it. Release it to Him because He is greater than your worry and your problems. He wants to trade peace for your suffering. He wants to give you a lighter burden, but you have to be willing to exchange worry for it and leave it with Him. God cares deeply about you and the things you’re going through. Trust Him to do what’s best and give Him your worry. Give no place in your mind to anxiety and debilitating worry. Be free.

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Throwback Thursday is a 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.

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Hope In Hardship

Going through hardships is part of life, but lately it seems a higher percentage of people are going through them. Financial hardship is one so many of us are facing as the world faces record unemployment. I’ve been to visit several people in recent weeks delivering food and money through our church’s benevolence ministry. I’ve seen the financial hardships up close. As financial hardships increase, so do relational hardships. Couples are struggling being cooped up together 24 hours a day with little to no money and stress is high. Single people face relational hardships and are feeling alone now more than ever.

One thing I’ve learned about hardships in my own life is that they give God an opportunity to shine as we become less independent and more dependent on Him. They produce in us faith that can’t be produced in good times. Also, hardships only last a season. After that, God is able to restore us as we have learned to trust Him more. He has not forgotten you or abandoned you in your hardship. He’s giving you a greater opportunity to experience a depth of His grace as of yet unknown to you. Trust in His strength during your time of hardship and in the sufficiency of His grace. He has never failed you, and He’s not going to start now.

Here are some Bible verses on hardship.

1. 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. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

Psalms 71:20-21 NLT

2. Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, But the LORD rescues him from them all.

Psalms 34:19 AMP

3. And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 AMP

4. You find God’s favor by deciding to please God even when you endure hardships because of unjust suffering.

1 Peter 2:19 TPT

5. Instead, in everything we do we show that we are God’s servants by patiently enduring troubles, hardships, and difficulties.”

2 Corinthians 6:4 GNT

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Where’s Your Trust?

Have you ever been in trouble or had a personal crisis? What’s the first thing you did? Sometimes we look at the situation and feel like it’s hopeless. Whenever I feel this way, I get stressed out and my mind goes into overdrive trying to find a solution. I can’t sleep because getting out of it is all I can think about. Other times, I feel like I need more information to help me. If I consume enough news or articles on the subject, I think I can make myself feel better by knowing more about it. Other times, I think back to how I got in the situation, and I think, “If only I had done this or that, I wouldn’t be here right now.” I can get lost replying my choices trying to think my way out of it. What I forget to do at times is to stop and pray about it.

When I was a kid, praise and worship songs at church were Bible verses put to music. One of those songs I remember was Psalm 20:7. We would sing, “Some trust in horses and some in chariots, but we will trust in the name of our God.” It’s a reminder of who to trust in times of trouble. In battle, people would look at the number of chariots they had or horses to feel confident in victory. Their hope was in their own Abi,ties and things they had purchased or built. David reminded himself, and the nation, that while those things look great from an earthy perspective to get you out of trouble, the battle is the Lord’s. He is the one who gives victory and makes rivers in the desert.

Psalm 50:15 says, “Honor me by trusting in me in your day of trouble. Cry aloud to me, and I will be there to rescue you” (TPT). Before this verse, God reminds us how great He is. Then He says this so that we will not trust in our own strength or abilities in times of trouble. God is the only one who is able to rescue us out of impossible situations and bring us victory when things look like certain defeat is on the horizon. Honor Him by trusting in Him, remembering that the battle is the Lord’s. Call out to Him in prayer, day and night rather than stressing out about the situation. God is a God who rescues and makes everything work together for your good. We may have to endure seasons of trouble, stress or impossible looking situations, but don’t let those things take your eyes off of God. He is at work. Put your hope and trust in Him.

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