Tag Archives: Word

Praising God for the Trials

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  Romans 5:3 (NLT)

I have not one, not two, but several major trials going on in my life simultaneously.  They have been going on for long periods of time and I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by them at times.  I do not say this in order to have a pity party for myself or to try to evoke your sympathy; it’s just the fact of my current circumstances.  While I am quite familiar with the above verse, I have never rejoiced at the onset of a trial, or in the middle of one.  I rejoice when they’re done.  Anybody with me on that?

This past weekend, I thought the opportunity would arise for a big turning point for the better in two of the trials that I face, so I cued up some trustworthy friends to be praying for that specifically throughout the weekend.  However, by the end of the weekend it was clear that these trials aren’t changing any time soon, much less going away.  I ended up baring my heart through tears to the Lord, letting Him know how much it hurt but asking Him for His perspective.  He finally asked me a question:  Will you believe I’m at work in these situations even when you don’t see any evidence of it?

His question coalesced with the other work He’s been doing in me.  Through various means, the Lord has recently been prompting me to examine the state of my faith.  I thought my faith was pretty strong; faith is actually one of my spiritual gifts.  However, the Lord pointed out to me that although I KNOW the truth of His word (I have it memorized), I don’t always BELIEVE His word (apply it to my own life).

Ouch!  He was right.  He showed me that while I have no problem believing that His word is true for other people, I have not believed that it’s true for me also.  I haven’t dared to hope that it could be true for me and that He would work in miraculous ways in my life as well as in the lives of those around me.

So here I was, at a crossroads.  I was faced with choosing to continue in my unbelief or to change paths and start to believe that His word is true for me as well as for you.  It felt like a big risk to believe that I could have the hope of all of His promises for myself.  However, the decision was an easy one – I chose to believe Him.  I repented for my unbelief and chose hope instead.  This was equivalent to a tectonic plate shifting in my heart.  Wow!

My first request of the Lord was for Him to give me joy in spite of my circumstances.  I cannot manufacture joy in my life even when things are going well, and I certainly couldn’t do it in the face of the trials.  It had to come from Him or not come at all.

It didn’t come immediately.  I had to push through a lot of garbage and lies from the enemy by continually affirming that I trusted Jesus and Jesus alone and affirming that His word is true for me.  I reminded the Lord of His promise to give us joy and of His Romans 5:3 promise that we can rejoice in the middle of trials.  It felt like re-programming my 54 year old heart to believe differently.  Soon, the joy came.

There is still no end in sight to my trials.  They might rage on for several more days, weeks, months or even years for all I know.  What I know is that my heart would not have been changed without the simultaneous onslaught of these trials.  I have learned not just to praise God IN my storms but to actually praise Him FOR the storms.  What a blessing!

Friends, if you find yourself facing problems and trials today, here are some things that will be crucial to navigating them with a soft heart towards God:

  1. Get people praying for you and with you in the middle of it.  Don’t just say, “I’m going through a hard time,” but let yourself be known!  I cannot overemphasize how important this is.  Doing life in community MATTERS.  Prayer MATTERS.
  2. BELIEVE God.  The word “believe” is a verb; it denotes action.  Put your trust in Jesus and Jesus alone.  Don’t tough it out and grit your teeth until you get through it – trust that He will bring you through and also that He has your very best in mind.
  3. Praise God.  Praising Him for Who He is takes your eyes off yourself and puts them squarely on Him, where they belong.  Ask Him to help you praise Him FOR the storm – He will do it!
  4. Ask God for everything that you need.  No, I don’t mean that you need your problem or trial to end.  I mean, do you need more joy while you’re in the storm?  More endurance?  More strength?  More wisdom?  Ask Him – He is eager to answer.

Let me know if I can be praying for you too.  Comment below or send me a private message if you prefer.  We can be on this journey together.  🙂

The Double Rainbow

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”  Genesis 9:12-16

God often “speaks” to me through nature.  Today I would like to tell you about how He speaks to me through rainbows.

When I gave my life to Christ on October 14, 2001 (read about that here), my mind was in a whirl and I was gripped with fear.  Right after I finished praying, I was afraid of the sensation that I had in my body until the Lord told me that He was washing me from the inside out.  Next, I was afraid of telling anyone about what I had done because I had been divorced twice and was pretty sure I was going to fail at keeping this relationship with Jesus also.  Third, I was afraid of how my family would react to this news.  Finally, I was specifically afraid of what my boyfriend, who was definitely NOT a believer, would think about my decision to follow Christ.

God in His grace met me right where I was.  He didn’t let me keep my decision to myself.  As my church family came around me to celebrate my decision, the Holy Spirit was talking my ears off and assuring me that He would never leave me, never forsake me.  I was flooded with His infinite love for me and I began to understand that He would be with me as I told my family and my boyfriend this news that I was now so excited about that I could barely contain it.

When I left church that afternoon, the rain had stopped, but there were the thickest, blackest thunderheads I’d ever seen filling the skies.  Suddenly, the sunshine broke through and a brilliant double rainbow appeared, accented by the black clouds.  It was stunning!

“This is my promise to you,” I felt like He was saying to me.

Since that time, He has continued to use double rainbows to speak to me.  He tends to send them at the most opportune times.  They always encourage me.

One time I was taking a walk and talking with Him at a point in my life where I was weighed down with great difficulty.  It had stormed earlier, and I looked up to see a rainbow against the thunderclouds.  As I looked down again, I smiled and said silently to Him, “This reminds me of the rainbow you gave me the day I gave my life to You, only that one was a double.”  We spent a couple of minutes reflecting on that wonderful day.  Then He said, “Look up again,” so I did.  To my amazement, He had made it a double rainbow!  The heaviness lifted from me as I was reminded that He was with me always and that He would give me what I needed to handle the difficulty in my life.

Friends, you don’t have to have a double rainbow to know that God is with you.  He tells us in His Word,  Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)  That same promise that He made to Israel through Moses is available to you and me today.  His Word is trustworthy and true, so you can bank on that promise that He has made to be there for you.  Won’t you believe Him today?   

 

Fuzzy Signals

My husband and I are getting ready to take a weekend road trip to Georgia to see my beloved Georgia Bulldogs (Go Dawgs!) take on the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders tomorrow (a game that, thankfully, was not cancelled by Hurricane Florence).  Since my family is still in Georgia, I make that 800 mile round trip drive pretty often, and as a result I have chosen to equip my car with satellite radio.  I love satellite radio, because I can drive anywhere in this vast country and never lose the signal – I don’t even have to change stations if I don’t want to.  It’s a luxury that I enjoy since I love a good road trip.

Recently, however, I took a business trip to Columbus OH (about a 400 mile round trip from where I live) for a seminar.  I drove the company car on that trip, and it just had a regular radio in it.  That meant that every so often, the signal of the station I was listening to would get fuzzy and would fade in and out.  I had to find a new station to listen to in the midst of negotiating traffic in unfamiliar areas.

As I changed stations, the Lord reminded me that if I’m not careful, His “signal” can get fuzzy to me as well.  If I’m not careful to maintain my prayer life and keep my quiet time with Him, I will lose my focus on His voice – His signal to me.  If I’m not in fellowship with believers and I’m not in the Word regularly, I will cut off some of the ways that He speaks to me most often.  If I’m not taking time to be still and to be quiet, I’m going to mess up my “reception”.

How do you most love to stay in touch with our Lord so that you can hear His voice?  Do you love your quiet time?  Getting away to the wilderness?  Being with other believers?  I’d love to hear how you stay connected to Him!

I’ve Lost It!

The other night, something jolted me awake from a dead sleep at around 2:30 a.m.  My left hand immediately flew to my ear, and I realized that the diamond stud earring that I always wear was gone.  Oh, no!  Quickly I checked my right ear, and that stud was firmly in place.

I checked the left again.  Yep, still gone.

Not wanting to wake my sleeping husband, I began feeling around my pillow in the dark to see if I could find the earring.  I found the back to it, but no diamond stud.  Had my husband added my jewelry on our homeowner’s insurance?  I wasn’t sure…but I knew I had to find that earring.

I went into the bathroom as I thought that would be the most likely place for the earring to have fallen out.  I turned on the light and looked everywhere.  No luck.

I went back into the bedroom and decided that I had to search the bed.  I couldn’t find it by feel, and I started wondering if it had fallen to the floor.  I had visions of it being sucked up into the vacuum cleaner, never to be seen again.  I had to find it, even if it meant tearing the whole house apart in the process.

Eventually I turned on the bedside lamp, hopeful that it wouldn’t disturb my husband.  I turned back the covers….and there it was.  Whew!!!  What a relief.  I quickly turned off the lamp again and then tightly fastened the earring back into my left ear where it belonged.  The whole escapade didn’t even wake up my husband.  🙂

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a parable of a woman who lost a gold coin and turned her whole house upside down looking for it.  A parable is a story that Jesus used to help his contemporaries understand what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.  In the parable, the woman eventually found her lost coin.  When she found it, she threw a party and invited her friends to come and celebrate with her.  In verse 10, Jesus concludes:

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  To repent just means to turn away from your sinful ways and to embrace God’s ways.   Jesus says that even the angels of God rejoice when just one sinner repents.  Isn’t that amazing?

I well remember in my own faith story, which you can read here, how God used a pastor’s words to help me “Get found!”  Yes, I was the lost child that God valued so highly that He would have torn apart the whole house looking for me.  When I came out of hiding on October 14, 2001 and got found by Him, there was rejoicing in Heaven – they threw a party to celebrate!  Can you imagine that??  It’s astonishing to me.

You can get found, too, if you haven’t already.  Just pray a humble prayer that you truly mean from the bottom of your heart, and Jesus will accept you.  You don’t have to clean up your act first or get your life in order – He wants you just as you are, right now, wherever you are.  His Word tells us that “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).   You can use your own words, or you can pray this simple prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinful person and I have fallen short of your glory.  I ask that You would please forgive me of all of my sins – past, present and future – and wash me clean.  I no longer want to live that life; I want to follow Your ways.  From this day forward, please come into every area of my heart and lead my life.  Be my Savior.  I receive your gift of grace and I receive your incredible love for me.  Thank You, Jesus.  Amen.”

AMEN!!!  If you have just prayed that prayer, would you please tell me so that I can celebrate with you?  If you’ve already received Him, I’d love it if you’d post your date in the comments below so that I can celebrate you as well.  🙂  Blessings to all of you!

A Prowling Lion

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Have you ever heard a lion roar? I got the full effect of a lion’s roar when I visited a zoo in Chicago. A male lion was just on the other side of a glass partition from me and suddenly he roared. It was so fearsome that it reached something primal inside me, making my insides quake and my hair stand on end!

Have you ever watched a nature documentary that showed a lion on the hunt? Or have you perhaps seen lions stalking their prey in real life? Did you notice their technique of hunting? They are opportunistic hunters that have two primary methods of hunting. They will either stalk their prey while moving from cover to cover and then rush in for the kill or they will lie in wait while under cover in order to ambush their prey. They hunt in groups, working together to drive a herd of prey animals closer to the ones lying in wait. Once a prey animal is singled out, it soon goes down in a flurry of teeth and claws. Then the whole pack of lions gorges on it.

1 Peter tells us that our enemy is “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be devoured by a lion, and especially not this one. How do we keep from becoming prey for the enemy? Here are some tips:

  • Be alert and of sober mind. We have to be aware that even if we’ve given our lives to Jesus, the enemy is not going to come after us any less than he did previously. We must try to avoid being caught unawares. Prayerfully consider in what situations you are weakest (when you’re tired, hungry, stressed at work or home, etc.) and take steps to anticipate the attack.
  • Put on the full armor of God every day. (Ephesians 6:10-20) We must be prepared to meet our enemy in battle, and the only way we can do that is by putting on the full armor of God every day. Isn’t it amazing as you read that passage that God has already armed us in every way for our protection?
  • Stay strong in the Word. One of the enemy’s favorite tricks is to tell us truth with just a little twist. This is what the serpent did to Eve in the Garden and what he did to Jesus when He spent 40 days in the wilderness after being baptized. Note that Jesus was able to battle the enemy because He knew the Scriptures and was not tricked as Eve had been.  We must know the Scripture so that we will not be tricked by a twist on the Scripture and so that we can use it as a weapon against the enemy.
  • Stay in community with believers. This doesn’t mean that you should not associate with anyone who is not a Christ follower, but it does mean that your community of Christ followers is crucial to your successful walk. A good community of believers will help you discern the best path and will warn you about dangers along the way.
  • Remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength!  This truth from the book of Nehemiah is no less true for us than it was for Nehemiah and his contemporaries.  We must continue to look to the Lord as our source of joy, not to our circumstances.  Revel in the ways the Lord speaks to you and reveals things to you and in the ways that He loves you.  Our joy in the Lord is a powerful weapon against the enemy.

What other ways can you think of to guard against becoming prey for the enemy?  Share them in the comments!