Tag: hope

Our Current Trial

What trial are you currently in? I want to share with you the one I just went through. As I eluded in my last blog Embrace the Unknown, God was calling me to step out onto the waters of the unknown. He wasn’t calming the storm before me—He wasn’t changing my circumstance then asking me to come. No, the wind was blowing and the waves were tossing!

The funny thing (it’s funny now) is the trail I was in was nothing I hadn’t experienced before. I’ve been in literal devastation—and lived tell of God’s faithfulness. In one summer not only did my childhood hero—my brother—die, but my two-year old daughter as well (read about it here Hero of Grace—Finding Treasure). Many times my marriage dangled by a mere thread. I’ve had three miscarriages, and been on the verge of death myself. We’ve lost our home and our business-starting over many times. I’ve had three of my dear sons walk away from the Lord—very heartbreaking—to say the least. I’ve been disowned by my family. And these are just the major events after marriage.

So I’m no stranger to suffering, what was so different about my current trial? I believe it was different because this time I knew (sort of) what I was fighting for. And as I look back over all the years, I see I was always fighting for the same thing.

It was a fight for my faith.

Your current trial is a fight for your faith.

For about the last year I’ve been in a season of purposefully strengthening my faith—my goal is to be fully convinced without wavering, (Romans 4:20). Therefore in this trial I was fighting to believe God’s Word and the devil was fighting for his ground of unbelief in my heart. God was purposing to remove a deeper layer of fear in my life—namely the fear-of-lack. Fear rooted it’s self in my life when I was a child. It makes sense—God’s plan for my life is that I’d be a person of deep, unwavering faith—the devil’s plan—just the opposite—fear.

Throughout my years of suffering I could feel God’s comfort, and even when the sea of the unknown tossed, as I remember it now, I felt I was in the boat. This time He stood out on the frenzied ocean, extending His hand, asking me to step out on a sea of unknown waters—to trust Him even as it raged.

I’m sure He’s always wanted this scenario and every battle I’ve fought has brought me nearer to this. And while I’m embarrassed to just now, decades after becoming a Christian, come to this place, on the other hand God is ecstatic with me!

I really thought I failed in this current trial, because my head continually bobbed in and out of the water. The heavy hand of the enemy’s oppression—the spirit of unbelief—continually tried to push my head under. I couldn’t sleep and when I did, I’d wake in panic. Worry overwhelming me like never before. The difference was—I fought tooth and nail to believe God’s promises. The harder I fought the heavier it got. Some days I sat all day just reading the Word or listening to worship music, continually praying—determined to own what I claim to believe.

I felt like I wavered, (I’m always way harder on myself than God is). He told me I won the battle the moment I determined to believe—the moment I chose to sit all day reading His Word instead of escaping by sleeping or watching a movie.

The bummer to pressing in while in battle with the enemy is that he presses harder. But God came running to save me the moment I began to falter. And in His faithful love He waited, watching and interceding for my success, holding back breakthrough—until just the right hour, knowing stronger unwavering faith was my real need.

What’s your real need? Breakthrough or stronger faith?

Have you ever read the book of Job? God allowed catastrophes (plural) to strike him. In it the enemy of his soul had a plan, which was to steal Job’s faith and get Him to curse God. God’s plan for Job was that he would not just know about Him but for Job to actually know Him, making God Lord of all—this meant Job’s faith would have to be foolproof.

Over the years God has delivered me from many aspects of fear and I’m very happy to say I am now on the other side of this battle—the fear-of-lack and the spirit of lack its self are broken off my life! You have got to love the faithfulness of God!

This is my song of thanksgiving to God! Psalm 34:1-7,

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord. The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.

Please be encouraged in your current trial to understand it’s more about your faith than your need.

James 1:2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

What Mountain?

Have you ever found yourself facing a mountain in life? A mountain of trail so vast—discouragement immediately sets in?

But what if your mountains could simply melt like wax?

Metaphorically speaking Psalm 97:5 says just that!

“The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.”

In order for the mountains we face to melt, we have to realize what exactly the mountains are. Take a look at the following scripture in Mark 11:20-23.

“In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!’ ‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.”

Essentially Jesus is saying, if we do not doubt—but believe His Word with our whole heart—mountains, the minute they present themselves can be tossed into the sea—just like that! And we can confidently live our life saying “What Mountain?”

Question, why would Jesus answer Peter’s remark about the fig tree “Have faith in God?” Jesus is always teaching us something bigger than what our eyes see. He must have known Peter’s (and our) biggest struggle was faith in God—alone.

Our faith has to be about Him alone, therefore; “Have faith in God.” Faith is not about our works or the methods we use to get God to move on our behalf. It’s about simple truth in the only One who never lies.

The mountains are not the things that we face at all.

A troubled marriage, finances, rebellious children, depression, addictions, impossible circumstances, grief, illness—depending on our faith—these feel as enormous as Mt. Everest.

But in all reality the mountain we face is unbelief.

Everything in life that would present itself as a mountain originates from unbelief. Therefore, if we have true faith in God, there would not be mountains to face, because true faith in God believes He is bigger than any problem or trial that tries to rise against us. True faith in God does not worry or fret wondering if God will perform—true faith in God knows God can and will come through. True faith in God rests in thy will be done and does not try to manipulate Him to do what we want Him to do. Accordingly, if we have true faith in God everything that appears as a mountain melts like wax before the Lord our God.

You’ve got to love this!

The mountains we face are not objects of opposition at all. The mountain is what’s in us—it is what we believe or do not believe about God.

Our Christian mindset is not exactly faith in God. It is faith in God and me. When our faith is divided between God and self, or God and methods, faith becomes diluted, therefore making faith weak, becoming unbelief and is rendered ineffective.

The mountain of unbelief that resides in people is the most difficult to move. Why? Because the battle is no longer God and me against adversity—but our soul against our spirit, (Gal. 5:16-18) “Me” against God. It’s easy to look at the attack of the devil against us, but when the battle lays within, it is a different story because to win, self must decrease.

In regard to overcoming unbelief—follow the methods mentioned in my last blog: Fully Convinced (click to read).

Most importantly what we must recognize about mountain moving faith is that it’s about relationship with God the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit. We must live a Christ centered life where Jesus is enough. Remembering God is not a genie. In this setting—as we spend time with Him, our faith increases and the mountains melt like wax before the Lord our God.

Please be encouraged to make your new saying “What mountain?”

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Divine Rearrangement

cs lewis

I was recently reminded of a time in my life where the landscape of my heart and soul were rearranged. Prior to this divine rearrangement I was unsatisfied with my life and my simple Christianity, I knew there had to be more.

In my thirst I cried out to the Lord asking for His rain, fire, wind and flood. I did this with an unpretentious understanding that He would come and bring something fresh. What I didn’t realize was that it would rearrange my entire life.

When we think of the rain of God—we picture Him showering us with His love, the fire of God is pictured as His intense presence, the wind—His Spirit flowing through us, the flood—an abundance of refreshing.

That’s very poetic, but in all reality when those four elements arrived they overwhelmed everything I knew, and when they left I was rearranged. Rearranged for the better of course—and in the end that’s all that really mattered.

I was reflecting on hurricanes and tsunamis, or storms of any kind—after their initial devastation the landscape, to say the least, is rearranged.

Most times we don’t understand why hardships are allowed to interrupt our life—but what I do know is—God is constantly good, and always has a beautiful purpose for divine rearrangement.

Even the simplest most sought after situations bring rearrangement. Take marriage for example—the young couple so excited to finally live together, embark on their new life and suddenly reality hits—they have to learn to live their life in a whole new manner. It’s no longer about one person, but about selflessly giving your whole self to the person who just invaded your space! Now life is rearranged.

Or how about having a new baby? The couple has hoped and prayed and imagined how wonderful this new precious life will be. And yes, this baby is the most perfect gift. But truth be told—this tiny, adorable child has many needs! And life as you know it is divinely rearranged!

In all situations it’s our heart that matters. We must keep a soft, pliable heart towards God. Embracing the good and the bad—seeking His divine, sovereign purpose—even in rearrangement.

Please be encouraged knowing that if God be for you who can be against you!

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles 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. James 1:2-3

Debilitating Fear

Have you ever been so consumed with fear that you could hardly move? Has your heart ever been so devastated and broken—so fearful of pain—you could  scarcely breathe—let alone continue on with normal life?

Fear is a thief—suspending and incapacitating life.

But that’s not all—let me let you in on a secret—fear is really a facade. That’s right as enormous and intimatading as fear may seem—in light of who Jesus is fear is very puny and ineffective!

I just read a story about how Jesus healed, restored and delivered a tortured man.  (Read Luke 8: 26-38)  After his healing this man clothed, and in his right mind, sat at the feet of Jesus—listening, loving and taking in every word He said. The man was truly restored.

The town’s people however, were terrified of the change that came to the tortured man—they were fearful of the peace that now filled the man. As a result of their fear they asked Jesus, even though He had only been there a very short while, to get back into His boat and leave.

I marvel at the ignorance of these people. Jesus does a miracle and the people are so afraid they ask Him to leave?

What would have happened in that whole town if the people instead welcomed Him? How many lives would have been changed and hearts healed if they had chosen faith in the place of fear?

How many times could our own heart and lives be helped—if we would just choose faith?

Be encouraged, by the grace of God, to stand in faith and draw near to Jesus. To live in hope and belief—not allowing debilitating fear to rule and ruin the peaceful life Jesus intends for you to have.

Please remember in the light of who Jesus is—fear is a puny, ineffective facade—therefore give it no room in your life!

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

Is God Narcissistic?

Have you ever wondered why God wants us to praise, glorify and worship Him? Love Him, seek and obey Him? Could it be that He is narcissistic and vain? One who barley knows Him might think so.

The truth is, God is secure in His position of creator and Lord of all. He does not need puny humans to worship Him so He can feel secure. He’s not on a power trip, rallying people to Himself so He looks all powerful and good. No, He actually is all powerful and good; in fact He’s the essence of good and the author of power.

All knowing God understands what will transpire in our heart and life when we exalt Him. He doesn’t want us to give Him all our adoration because it will benefit Him—just the opposite—it will benefit us!

God the Father, is a good parent, always looking out for and preferring His kids, making sure the best happens for them. This is why He wants us to live our life in complete surrender to Him and His ways, where His perfect will can be done in our lives. Essentially He knows what’s best and wants to bless us.

We were made to praise, worship and glorify—it’s woven into our being. We will worship something; be it sports, entertainers, food, self, or beauty. Why not worship someone who really deserves it. God is worthy to be praised, worshipped and glorified, after all He is pretty awesome and He did create the entire universe!

There are countless benefits to worshipping God, I’ll mention just one—it causes us to look up and take our eyes off ourselves, creating an atmosphere where we can draw near to God. In the nearness of God our lives are transformed and we are truly blessed. We are defined by what we worship, being defined by God sounds rather wonderful, doesn’t it?

There was a time (a very long time) in my life where I lived a shallow existence, thinking everything was all about me. During that extremely extended period of self-indulgence, I had the thought that God was selfish and egotistical. It made me mad that He wanted everything. And the one thing that He did give me control over—my will—He wanted me to give that to Him as well. I was upset that He’s a jealous God—jealously wanting all my love and affection.

After I finally admitted my issues to Him, which He already knew and loved me still, He began to help me shift my point of view so I could see the greatness of His love and just how preferring and patient is His character.

Listen to the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, keep in mind; God is love.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

According to this passage of scripture God is completely selfless, so there’s no way He could be narcissistic. His unselfish love sent His Son to the cross, making a path for you and I to live—really live—free from the devil’s schemes and plans for our life. Creating a way for us to have eternal life. This love frees us from fear and chaos, filling us with peace, truth and hope.

It turns out the reason God wanted my will was because He knew how self-destructive my will actually is, He wanted to save me from my own self-indulgence.

He’s jealous, not in the same manner that we humans get jealous—in His jealousy He’s selfless. It’s more about watching out for us. His love is expressed in His jealousy—He’s jealous for our heart that it not be given over to sin, pride, hatred, anger, un-forgiveness and fear, He loves us too much to let those cancers shape our life. He would rather we tuck our heart into His presence where it can be nurtured and grow in a flawless environment.

Please be encouraged to examine your heart towards God. I’m praying that you will tuck your heart into His presence, knowing Him deeper still.

Disappointment

Disappointment is an irritating nag that suffocates joy in our life. Learning the liberating secret that frees us from its heaviness—is vital. If we don’t get out from under disappointments thumb, we end up cynical and distrustful in life.

If disappointment is your constant companion as it used to be mine, I’ve got good news for you—disappointment is not a way of life.

Disappointment is a spirit that settles on you. It’s the opposite of wearing rose-colored glasses, you’re wearing glasses alright, but they are tinted with disappointment—everything you see, hear and do, comes and goes through their filter.

Disappointment established its residence in my life when I was young. I grew up without my father, seeing him maybe twice a month. He constantly promised big things and I believe he really wanted to deliver them, but because of his own dysfunction—he lacked the ability to see his word through. I always wanted to believe he would keep his word, even though my mom consistently warned me that he wouldn’t. Mostly he would show up late, or not at all and very seldom keep his grandiose promises.

As I grew up I continuously expected to be disappointed, that way when things didn’t work out, the pain of being let down would be softened.

I lived with the expectation that people would not keep their word and that they would eventually disappoint me. The problem with that mindset is that it’s judgmental. Wearing the glasses of disappointment causes us to weigh and measure others unjustly. These glasses also cause us to get into the mode of self-protection, where we mistrust and doubt love, becoming prone to offense.

Accordingly, we unhealthily guard our heart from love—forming walls. Every disappointing offense is brick and mortar—building for ourselves a nice little fortress around our heart—making it difficult for loved ones to penetrate, let alone God. The interesting fact about self-protection is that it breeds selfishness and sets us up to live in a world dictated by self.

The secret I’ve learned, is that my trust was misdirected. Granted parents, spouses and family should be trust worthy, but because we live in such a fallen selfish world, where sin abounds, some people are dysfunctional and do not know how to properly love each other. I now have grace for such people, since I myself used to be one!

What I mean by misdirected, is that we are trusting in all the wrong things and in the wrong people.

This may sound harsh, but God really is the only one who is completely trust worthy. Why? Because God is not human. Human nature at its best is not flawless, but God is.

This is a hard shift to make but completely doable, mainly we take a huge leap of faith and decide that yes, God’s Word—the Bible, is true and I am going to believe it! God is worthy of my trust and I am going to give it to Him!

Numbers 23:19 says,

God is not man, one given to lies, and not a son of man changing his mind. Does he speak and not do what he says? Does he promise and not come through?

At first it’s an issue of the will, we will ourselves to trust and believe in Gods faithfulness—He provides grace for such a task. With the issue of trust settled, it becomes a heart issue. We learn to allow God to heal our heart and soul, thus possess it.

Now, all our trust is in God and His will for our life. We no longer trust in our job for money—no, God’s the one who supplies all our needs and the job is just the tool He is using.

We no longer trust people or situations to rescue us, but we trust God—He’s the rescue. He will use people and situations, but they are not our hope—He is.

A lot of the time we say “If I just had that job (or that house or that spouse or that situation) then my life would be easier or better. The truth is, with that mindset our trust is misdirected.

Instead we ought to live our life knowing—Yes, God does bring opportunities that better our life and make it abundant, but those opportunities are not what we place our hope in.

Our Hope is Christ. Everything else is extra!

Proverbs 13:12 says,

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

Please be encouraged to place all your trust in God, where your hope will not be deferred!

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. Jeremiah 17:7