Tag Archives: trusting God

Being Courageous

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Having Enough

Every year, Americans spend over $80 billion on lottery tickets. It’s hard not to spend money on a ticket when lottery prizes are upwards of $300 million. However, nearly 45% of lottery winners go broke within 3-5 years. The problem is that we are trying to get wealth without earning it. When that happens, we don’t have an understanding of money, thinking it is an endless supply. You can search for “The lottery ruined my life” to see the countless stories of people who are worse off after having won the lottery than before. I also think there’s a heart problem here for most people. Who are you trusting to care for your needs? God or the lottery?

Each of us have prayed The Lord’s Prayer thousands of times. In it we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s interesting that Jesus taught us to ask for daily bread, but we are always seeking more bread. When the Israelites were in the desert, God told them to gather just enough manna for one day. If they gathered more than a day’s worth, it rotted and became full of maggots. God has always been about making sure we have enough. He’s not against us getting rich or trying to make more money, but He is concerned with our motives. Are we trying to replace Him as the source for our lives?

In Proverbs 30:8-9, there is a great prayer by Agur. He prayed, “Empty out of my heart everything that is false— every lie, and every crooked thing. And give me neither undue poverty nor undue wealth— but rather, feed my soul with the measure of prosperity that pleases you. May my satisfaction be found in you. Don’t let me be so rich that I don’t need you or so poor that I have to resort to dishonesty just to make ends meet. Then my life will never detract from bringing glory to your name” (TPT). We need to find our satisfaction in Jesus, understanding that He gives us our daily bread. Jesus said that when we seek His Kingdom first, all these other things would be added to us. Is He enough in your life? Are you satisfied with Him? Or are you trying to replace the need for Him?

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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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Faith Over Feelings

Everyone of us has had some dark valleys that we’ve walked through. There are those days, months, and years where we just wish we could see a ray of hope. We want to know that we are not alone. That God has a plan. That He hasn’t forgotten us. We want to know that this time won’t last forever. In those times, it’s critical that our faith over rides our feelings. Our feelings interpret circumstances, but our faith dictates them.

I remember walking through a long, dark valley. God spoke to me and said, “I see you where you are. I have not left you or forgotten you. I’m walking with you through this. I am not in front of you or behind you. I’m right beside you.” Those words boosted my faith over my feelings. They reminded me that even when I can’t see or feel God, that He is with me no matter what. When my prayers feel like they’re falling on deaf ears, He hears them because He’s a whisper away. He’s walking with us in the darkness.

In Psalm 23:4, David gave us some words to remember this truth. He wrote, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (NLT). In the valley, our feelings produce fear, but our faith produces peace and reassurance that God has not left us. We don’t have to fear or fret in the valley. God is walking right beside us each step of the way. He has not forgotten us. Trust your faith over your feelings.

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Even If He Doesn’t

One of the toughest things we need to have with our faith is a “What if He doesn’t” attitude. What if He doesn’t heal your family member? Will you still trust Him? What if He doesn’t save your marriage? Will you still love Him? What if He doesn’t help me get this job? Will you still follow Him? What if He doesn’t answer your prayer? Will you still serve Him? These are tough questions, but necessary to ask yourself. God doesn’t always do the things we believe He should. Even when we believe with everything in us that He can and will answer our prayer, sometimes He doesn’t. Trusting Him after that is something we all must learn to do. We have to remember that He sees the bigger picture and that His ways are higher than ours.

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego wouldn’t bow to their captor’s god. The king brought them in and commanded them to do it or die. He asked them if they thought there was any god who could save them from burning in a fiery furnace. They told him that God was able to do it. Then, in verse 18, they added, “But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up” (GNT). They were willing to sacrifice their lives trusting God, even if He didn’t answer their prayer and save their lives. It’s the type of faith that we all need to have. It’s the type of faith we must determine to have before we get into a situation that will challenge us at our core.

Psalm 34:1 says, “I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises” (NLT). We can’t just praise God when things are going great and when our prayers are being answered. We must learn to praise Him at ALL times. When He doesn’t answer our most desperate prayer, praise Him. When everything in life is going wrong, praise Him. Our praise, trust and love for God cannot be based on our feelings or circumstances. It must run deep within us to the point that it is who we are. Determine today that even if He doesn’t respond the way you deeply believe He should, you will bless and praise Him anyway.

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The Right Route

Whenever I’m on the road and need directions, I usually use Waze to help me get there. It finds the quickest route and gets me there at the promised time. To do that, it often takes detours through neighborhoods or back streets I’ve never been on. I’m at the mercy of this app, and have to trust that it knows what it’s doing. Sometimes it takes me through places where I wonder if I’m safe.

There are times when it tells me to exit or turn, and I think, “That’s odd. My exit is just ahead.” Early on, I just thought it was a glitch and kept driving. After trying to correct me a few times, it finally gave up and added a lot of time to my arrival time. It saw what I couldn’t up ahead and tried to help me avoid it. When I didn’t listen, I got stuck in the traffic it was trying to help me avoid. I’ve learned to trust that it knows best and can see what I can’t.

God is a lot like Waze in our lives. He knows our destination and the route He wants us to take. He plans out each detour to help us avoid hurts or pains, but often we think we know best and drive right past what He’s telling us to do. We can’t see what He sees up ahead in our lives. It takes trust to follow His instructions when we don’t understand. He even takes us on detours through places we didn’t know existed, but it’s all for our benefit.

Psalm 1 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It gives great promises to those who listen to God’s instructions rather than man’s. One of those promises says that God charts the road you take (verse 6 MSG). God has charted out a road for each of us. It’s up to us to listen to His Word, meditate on it and follow it. He knows best how to get us where He wants us. It’s up to us to follow the path He’s charted out.

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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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Displacing Worry

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Psychologists will tell you that worry is intended to protect us from fear. However, God did not intend for us to dwell on it or to let it consume us. When it stays at the forefront of my thoughts, it causes me to run scenarios over and over in my mind of things that will probably never happen. It keeps me up at night, drains my energy and robs me of peace. In a way, worry can be addictive. It can feel like if we’re not worrying about something, we don’t care enough. Thinking that way can cause us to get caught in a loop that feel impossible to break, but we must break it. We must learn to let it go and displace it with proper thoughts.

I love the way the Message unifies this passage of Scripture on worry. Philippians 4:6-9 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. Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Worry often is a sign of a lack of trust in Christ to work things out. Worry takes control of the situation and puts it in our hands. When we pray instead, we give it back to God where it belongs. Then we need to replace it in our mind with productive thoughts so we can get back to living the way God called us to. Worry isn’t just a harmless feeling. It has the power to disrupt how we’re supposed to live and trust in God. If you’re overwhelmed with worry today, begin to pray so you can hand those things and situations over to God. Verbalize that you’re giving them to Him and are trusting Him with the things you can’t control. Any time worry tries to make itself at home in your mind, remind it that you aren’t in control, but God is. Don’t let it take roots again. Fill your mind with praise, God’s promises and the things listed in Philippians 4:8.

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Weird Requests

A couple of years ago, my wife and I left visiting with my family a couple of nights before Christmas to go pray for a friend. On our way back to my family’s house, we were approaching the light to turn onto their road when I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Stop right here.” I was about 15 yards back from the light in the middle turn lane. My wife looked at me with a puzzled look and asked, “What are you doing?” I said, “I don’t know. I was told to stop right here.” So we sat there for almost a minute. I rolled my window down to listen. We saw police lights about a mile ahead coming towards us. Just then, a car appeared out of no where traveling at a high speed with no lights on coming up the wrong way to avoid people in their lane at the light. It swerved right in front of us and missed us by inches. It was so fast and close that our SUV shook from the wind of it passing. As we realized if I had been where I was supposed to be, they would have hit us head on.

The Gospel of Luke tells us a story of some fishermen who had been cleaning their nets after unsuccessfully fishing all night. Up walks Jesus preaching to a large crowd. He notices their empty boats and asks if they can take Him out into the water just a bit so He can teach the crowd from there. After He taught the crowd, Luke 5:4 says He told them, “Now row out to deep water to cast your nets and you will have a great catch” (TPT). Peter, the seasoned fisherman, explained that it didn’t make sense and that you fish at night. But then he added, “But if you insist, we’ll go out again and let down our nets because of your word.” When they did, their nets became so full of fish that their nets began to tear. He had to yell for help to the other boat on shore. They had so many fish in their boats that they were on the verge of sinking.

Both of these stories are related. God doesn’t always ask us to do things that make sense. They often go against the way things are normally done. We can argue with God about how it makes us look or we can trust what He’s telling us to do and obey Him at His Word. God asks for obedience from us even when we don’t understand. Sometimes it’s to save our life and other times it’s to bless us or others. As you go about your day, listen to what God is speaking to you. Ask Him for the courage to obey His requests no matter what they are. You and I can only see what’s right in front of us. God sees how everything is connected and into the future. He knows what’s best so we need to obey Him no matter what. You never know what’s riding on your obedience.

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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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Trust Is A Verb

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Speaking In Faith

Several years ago I taught a psychology of sales class. As part of the curriculum, we dealt with the rejection that all sales people face and how to overcome it. One of the methods was to speak out loud positive things about yourself that you wanted to happen. One exercise in particular had participants write down one attribute they wanted to be stronger in. They would get up in front of the group and say, “I am more courageous!” Then the rest of the crowd would shout back, “You are more courageous!” They were then encouraged to keep repeating it at home over and over until they became whatever it was that they chose in order to get it into their subconscious. Psychologists have proven that you can change your behavior, your mindset and even your attributes by creating new neuropathways for your thoughts to travel down. In order to do that, you had to create new paths and those began by speaking out in faith, if you will, about the new way you wanted your brain to think.

The apostle Paul was a person who faced a lot of adversity after he converted to Christianity. He was thrown in prison, he was whipped five times, beaten with a rod three times, stoned, shipwrecked, put in dangerous situations and so much more. If anyone had a reason to speak negatively, it was him. Yet despite all the troubles he had, he held firmly to his faith and spoke words of faith to the churches of that time. He stayed faithful to God despite what his circumstances were. In prison, he sang praises. In storms, he encouraged others, In pain, he trusted in God’s grace. In whatever he faced, he reminded himself that nothing could ever separate him from the love of God. He knew that his words were powerful not only for himself, but for others as well. He wrote many of his letters, which are the books of the New Testament in the Bible, from prison. He understood the importance of staying faithful to God and speaking words of faith in the most trying times. If Paul did it, so should we.

Psalm 116:10-11 says, “Even when it seems I’m surrounded by many liars and my own fears, and though I’m hurting in my suffering and trauma, I will stay faithful to God and speak words of faith” (TPT). Like Paul and this psalmist, you and I must stay faithful to God and speak in faith about all He has done and will do. Many times our situation and circumstances stand opposed to who God is and what we know of Him. In those times, we must trust in the unchanging nature of God rather than what our physical eyes and mind are telling us. We should sing praises and Bible verses out loud to get them into our mind and subconscious. Remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Don’t be afraid to read the Bible out loud, to pray out loud and to sing out loud when you feel surrounded by your circumstances. You will find strength, encouragement and faith to keep moving forward and to keep trusting in God’s plan for your life.

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Receiving Help

Have you ever noticed that some of the most trying times in your life have been the most humbling? I can think of multiple times in my life where I was going through some difficult things and I couldn’t even look up. What was going on inside was affecting my outside. The thing that burdened my mind felt like a giant weight on my back. I shuffled around and often didn’t even feel like I had the strength to get up and face the day. By contrast, when I’m carefree, I’m upright, looking around, smiling and saying hello to everyone I meet. There are two different postures here that my body takes based on what’s going on inside. In the good times it’s easy to sing and enjoy life, but I’ve learned that in the most difficult seasons, I need to sing praises even more. Singing praise songs shifts my internal perspective from the weight I’m under to my need for the One who can help me through it. My focus is no longer on my problems, but on the One who has the solution. Praise reminds me that when I can’t, God can.

I love that the stories of David in the Bible share both his triumphs and his pains. His psalms reflect that too. He didn’t just write them when things were going to plan and when he was on top of the world. Many were written in times of desperation. In each of them, he continued to pour his heart out to God knowing He was the only one He trusted to help him. The psalms he left behind for us to read are great prayers, songs and reminders to look to God in times of plenty and in times of pain. I go to them pretty often because I know that they often give me words for the way I’m feeling, they give me prayers when I don’t know how to pray in those seasons and they give me encouragement as they remind me to put my hope in God. Even when we feel abandoned under our heavy load, the psalms remind us that God has not forgotten us and is our strength in time of need.

One such psalm I love in the last one that David wrote which is a psalm of praise and full of reminders. Psalm 145:14 reminds us, “The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads” (NLT). There is help for us when we’ve fallen down under our heavy load and feel like we should just stay down. God is there with an outstretched hand ready to lift us up. He sends people to pray for us, to encourage us and to help carry the load. However, it always requires us to reach out and take His hand and accept the help He sends. It can be quite humbling at times to admit we need help, or to accept that we can’t do it on our own. In those times I remind myself not to let my pride stand in the way of my progress and growth. I’ve learned that many times my struggles are an attempt to remind me to trust in God rather than my own strength. It’s a way for me to learn to accept help rather than to give it. Receiving help is as much an act of obedience as giving it. Don’t let pride stand in your way during those times.

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