Tag Archives: trusting God

God With Us

There’s a story of how the Cherokee would perform a right of passage for all boys before they were considered men. To become a man, the boy would be led into the woods at night. His father would sit him on a stump, blindfold Him and then leave him. He was told that he had to sit there all night, but he couldn’t make a sound. When he saw the sun rays through the blindfold, he could take it off and find his way back to camp.

It was tough to sit there silently. With their eyes covered, their sense of hearing was enhanced. They heard ever twig break as an animal stepped on it. They could hear the sounds of all the animals in the forest that were out at night. I’m sure they could hear the sound of their own heartbeat as they wondered whether they would be attacked. In the morning when he removed his blindfold, he would see that his father was sitting beside him the whole night watching over him.

I love that story because it’s so much like what our Heavenly Father does for us. We often feel blind and alone as we go through this world. Our fears can get the better of us if we aren’t careful, but God is right there with us through it all even though we can’t see Him. Isaiah 7:14 says, “All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” (NLT).

Immanuel is one of my favorite names for God. It gives me hope when I feel blindfolded as I go through this life. When I’m unsure of how things are going to turn out, and I feel vulnerable and open to attack, I remind myself that God is right there with me. He’s watching over me, protecting me and caring for me. He has never left my side no matter how dark the night has been. He remains true to His name Immanuel. He is God with us.

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Starting Over

Have you ever wanted to get a fresh start? Have you ever said, “If only I could do it all again”?Sometimes it would feel nice to get to wipe the slate clean and start over. You would get the chance to do things differently. A fresh start would let you change how people perceive you as well. There are a lot of benefits to getting a fresh start. The problem is that most of the time, a fresh start happens because things didn’t work out the way we planned.

I grew up playing Atari. While I’m not much of a gamer now, a lot of my childhood was spent trying to “flip” games. On certain games, there were levels and your goal was to get to the end. When I would fail at a level, I would try again over and over. I learned to try different strategies to get past certain things. What worked on one level didn’t work on another. I never really thought about it, but each time my game was over, I was getting a fresh start to try again.

Life isn’t much different. I’ve been to the “game over” screen before. I’ve burned through everything and come to the end of the line. I remember being upset that I was having to start over, but I was also thinking of how I would do things differently. I had to change my choices and my behaviors if I was going to get a different result. I did not, and do not, want to end up in that place again.

Psalm 145:14 says, “GOD gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit” (MSG). If you’re at the game over screen in life, don’t quit. Look at it as an opportunity to get a fresh start. You may feel like you’re down on your luck and your life to this point has been wasted, but you didn’t lose your experience. God gives us fresh starts with the wisdom we’ve learned through experience. It gives us the opportunity to make better decisions and to be more successful. What looks like “game over” is really a fresh start.

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Remember God’s Faithfulness

Do you ever sit around and remember the good old days? I’ve found that I do it from time to time. I’ve also noticed that it’s usually when I don’t like the present. Depending on what’s going on in your life or the world, that can be pretty often. I remember living over seas and we would sit around and reminisce about food we missed. Doing that often helped us get through some days when we would have rather been here.

Our memories are powerful. They can invoke physical responses like laughter, tears or pain. God gave us memories because He knew that we would need them to remember His goodness. He knew that we would need to know that He’s been faithful to us and will continue to be. If you’re struggling with the present, go back to the past and remember what God has done for you.

Here are some Bible verses on using remembrance to help us.

1. I remember the days gone by; I think about all that you have done, I bring to mind all your deeds. I lift up my hands to you in prayer; like dry ground my soul is thirsty for you.

Psalm 143:5-6 GNT

2. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually [longing to be in His presence]. Remember [with gratitude] His marvelous deeds which He has done, His miracles and the judgments from His mouth,

1 CHRONICLES 16:11-12 AMP

3. “Moses said to the people, “Always remember this day. This is the day when you came out of Egypt from a house of slavery. GOD brought you out of here with a powerful hand.

Exodus 13:3 MSG

4. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

Psalms 63:5-7 ESV

5. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 3:17-23 NLT

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A Successful Failure

By now, you’re probably familiar with the story of Apollo 13. The space capsule was supposed to do a “routine” landing on the moon and bring back rocks. Two days into the flight, there was a problem with the oxygen tank and it limited their ability to do anything. Instead of a lunar landing mission, it became a rescue mission. As they tried to figure out how to rescue them, Gene Kranz uttered the famous saying, “Failure is not an option!”

He was reminding his people that no matter how hard things got, they were not going to give up. They faced so many obstacles and hit a lot of dead ends. Instead of letting them give up, he sent them back to the drawing board to figure out another way. Many times the crew, and the people at NASA, didn’t know what to do next. While the Apollo 13 never accomplished their goal of landing on the moon, the mission was counted as a success because they found a way to get them back.

Giving up is to resign to failure. I can’t tell you how many times in life, I’ve felt like giving up. I felt like a failure, so I thought I might as well give up. I failed at life. I failed at love. I failed at work. It was easier to give up. I lacked the strength to try again. I thought I was out of options other than to give up. I had to remind myself that failure wasn’t an option. I had to tell myself to get back up. I had to pray like my life depended on it because it did.

Psalm 142:3 says, “When I am ready to give up, he knows what I should do” (GNT). When you’re at the point that you don’t know what to do next, pray that God would show you what to do. Ask Him to open the right door, to illuminate the right path. Be still, listen to His voice and look for the next step. Whatever you do, don’t ever give up because failure is not an option. Success is not earned by the outcome. It’s earned in not giving up.

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The Snowball Effect

When people see that my middle initial is “P”, they immediately want to know what it stands for. I usually grin and say, “Procrastinator!” I tell them my motto is, “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” I say it tongue in cheek, and sometimes it takes people a minute to catch how I changed the famous saying. Even though I’m joking, procrastination is something I struggle with and have to fight against.

It was one thing when it was school work, but then it bled into my job. After a while, I realized I had been procrastinating on my calling. God’s still, small voice was always there reminding me to get started, but I always found a way to put it off. I always figured I had time. Then one day I realized I had been putting God off for over ten years. I prayed, “OK, Lord. When you’re ready, I’m ready.” Things began to fall into place, but it was slow. Even now, I struggle sometimes with how slowly God is moving to make things happen.

I began to get upset at God because I want Him to move quickly now that I’ve decided not to procrastinate. I didn’t like how little was being accomplished. Then I was reminded of Zerubbabel’s message from God in Zechariah. He was told to rebuild the temple, a massive undertaking. I’m sure he struggled with the lack of progress it was showing. That’s when God spoke in Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (NLT).

Getting things started is always the hardest. It’s like the snowball effect. Things start small, but over time they grow exponentially. If you’re in the beginning stages of doing what God asked you to, stop comparing yourself to others who are farther along. Don’t despise the small beginnings. It’s important to get the foundation right and to take your time. God is pleased you’re on the journey. Take it one step at a time, and trust Him to complete it. If you haven’t started yet, quit procrastinating and do something to start today.

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New Beginnings

Author Robert Burns penned the now famous line, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” I can’t tell you how many times in my life the plans I made were detoured. I thought my plan was foolproof, only to find out it wasn’t life proof. Things happen that I don’t foresee and derail my goals and dreams. Often times, in disappointment and frustration, I give up on them and never return to complete them.

Sadly, this is the story for most of us. Life happens and takes away our happily ever after. We either think life has it out for us or God just doesn’t care. The truth is that often we try to build our own plans for our life and never include God’s plan for our life. When all of my plans came crashing down several years ago, I looked at my life and only saw a foundation left. I remember hearing God say, “Now that your plan failed, will you try it my way?”

I agreed that His way was best. I remembered the prophetic words spoken over me shortly after disaster took it all away. God said, “What looks like an ending is only a beginning. Where I am leading you, you will find more joy than you’ve ever known.” As I handed over the reigns of my future to God, i prayed, “God, I trust your future for my life over mine. Do what you want with my life and work out your plan for me.”

God has been faithful to do just that. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life” (NLT). If your plan for your life has failed and you’re at what looks like an ending, I recommend handing over the reigns of your life to God. You can trust your future to Him. He will take what looks like an ending, and turn it into a new beginning. Pray that same prayer I did and watch God work on your behalf.

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Training For Godliness – Avoiding Injury

Each year, I take one week off from writing to help me refresh and reset. This is that week. To help you stay faithful to your daily devotional time, I’m bringing back a series I wrote a few years ago on disciplines we as Christians need to have. Enjoy and I’ll be back next week with all new devotions.

Avoiding Injury

The way to avoid or minimize injury in sports is to do all the right things. The same applies spiritually. One of the things you can do to prevent injury is stretching. When is the last time you stretched yourself spiritually? I’m not talking about a faith pledge financially. I’m talking about stepping out in faith and you really doing something positive for the Kingdom. It could be walking up to a stranger and just telling them, “God wanted me to tell you that He loves you.” It could be fasting for three days with water only to grow closer to God. It could be any number of things that you don’t think you can do for God.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” The same thing applies spiritually. If you don’t stretch yourself and think you can do more than you are right now, you’re right. You will stunt your growth and never do more than what you’re doing today. God wants us to step out of the boat like Peter did. When he saw Jesus walking on the water and asked Jesus to call him out of the boat, I’m sure his mind told him that he couldn’t do it. Thankfully his faith in God told him that he could. Have you asked jesus to call you out of your boat? Which voice are you listening to? Stretch yourself.

Pre-Training

So before you begin your in depth training for Godliness you need to be able to do some things first. You need to be able to read God’s Word without interruption. How much you read isn’t important in the beginning. It’s not about reading a chapter a day or at a time. God can speak to you with just one verse, but you need to be where you can hear Him speak to you through it. Get away from all distractions and the noise in your life. Jesus went away from others to hear God. You should too.

You also need to be in the habit of praying and listening. Prayer is important. I think contemplative prayer is even more so. I’ll do a post on this soon because it’s more than just praying what comes to mind. It’s purposefully thinking through your prayers. That’s something you work up to though. Beyond just praying, you need to learn to quiet your mind and give God time to speak to you. We, like Elijah in I Kings 19:11-14, think that God speaks loudly all the time. We want Him to speak to us audibly. Elijah saw a windstorm that tore rocks loose from the mountains, but God’s voice wasn’t there. He saw an earthquake, but God’s voice wasn’t there. He even saw fire, but God’s voice wasn’t there either. After the fire, there was a gentle whisper of God’s voice. That’s how God speaks to us. We need to get to where we can hear His voice, then quiet our mind and listen for it.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap this series up with some final thoughts and encouragement to continue your training for Godliness.

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