Praising God in the storm

I was in the middle of writing on this same subject when this piece popped up in my feed. I put the pen down, because it cannot be said better than this.
As we heed into the week of Thanksgiving, this is an absolute must read!

“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.
– Lamentations 3:20-23

I am thankful for, thankful for, thankful for hardships, thankful list

I’ve always wished that my life was perfect, pain-free, and easy.

But that’s never guaranteed when you are Christian.

God says that the path He calls us to walk is narrow, not wide.

It’s not a path that many people will choose because it’s hard.

It’s a path that leads you through valleys and storms.

It’s a path that includes dying to your own self and being different from the world.

It’s a path where you learn to grow in Christ daily and that doesn’t come without pruning, breaking, and pain.

November is the month everyone likes to make a list of things they are thankful for.

And we always include everything that is good.

The food on our tables and roofs over our heads.

Our families and friends.

The daily gifts God gives us from above.

And those are all things we should always be thankful for.

But that’s…

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Un-stuck In The Middle

Saw a great tweet today from @ChristineCaine:

Throughout the Bible, God says things to us like ‘fear not‘ and ‘don’t be afraid‘.

In fact, He says them a lot.

He tells us to be anxious for nothing and to trust in Him. He promises to never leave us and to never forsake us.

And the pages of God’s Word are packed with the stories of normal, broken people who, despite their fears, frailties and failures in their past, trusted Him enough to obey Him, and did crazy awesome things for God.

Fear and faith cannot exist together.

Faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 as being “certain of what we do not see.” It is an absolute belief that God is constantly working behind the scenes in every area of our lives, even when there is no tangible evidence to support that fact.
– via gotquestions.org

If you’ve got a level hanging around the house, pull it out of the toolbox and play with it for a minute. Try to get that bubble in the middle.

See, that level almost perfectly illustrates the struggle between fear and faith in our lives.

Think of the left side as FEAR and the right side as FAITH. When the bubble is on the left, it’s as far away from faith as possible–there’s nothing but fear.

When it’s on the right side, faith is in control and there’s no fear to be found.

The problem is, most of us live in the middle. We’re living a delicate, exhausting balancing act where any little bump can send us one way or the other.

The thing is, God hates the middle. And so do we, if we’re honest.

We’re just close enough to great faith to taste it and feel its power–to know it’s really there–but never take that leap of faith and experience the life God intended for us. A life not ruled by our fears.

Yet it’s the very fear we want to overcome that keeps us from the faith we need to do so.

That’s why they call it a leap of faith.

We’ve gotta get as far away from the fear that keeps us from faith, as possible.

The beauty is, the more we move toward faith, the further we get from those fears. And the stronger our faith grows, the smaller our fears become.

As a boy, David fought a bear and a lion, which gave him the faith to believe that God would help him take on Goliath.

In 1 Samuel 17:37, David says, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear WILL DELIVER ME from the hand of this Philistine.”

David chose to feed his faith and starve his fear, but imagine if he had done the opposite.

What if after the first run-in with a lion or bear he had never gone back to that field?

Or what if David had chosen to run away from that first ferocious animal and spent the rest of his life telling anyone who would listen about the night he barely got away from that lion? Cool story, but so much less than God had planned for him.

His destiny and, as it turns out, all of human history would’ve been completely different.

Instead, his faith was rewarded with victory, diminishing his fear and building his faith even further. Those successes gave him the confidence to be courageous and do even greater things. And eventually be king!

And yet, doubt and fear never completely go away. Even for a man like David. But he knew the key to keeping fear at bay. Look what he wrote in Psalm 56:3, “when I am afraid, I will trust in You!”

That’s a good plan for us too.

Let’s be brave. Let’s trust in God, stop living in the middle and take that leap of faith.

More: Christine Caine
Bethel Music

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Z-Verse | Acts 9 | Suddenly | Nov 17, 2014

Our verse of the day is in Acts 9. Just go ahead and read the whole chapter real quick, the story’s just awesome.

Saul has been killing Christians, and he’s on his way to Damascus, papers in hand, to round up believers and bring them back to Jerusalem to torture and kill them.

He, literally, sees the light on his way there.

Verse 18 says, “IMMEDIATELY something like scales fell from eyes.”

Verse 20 says, “AT ONCE, he began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God.”

Two things jump out at me here.

1.) Things can seem completely hopeless and God can change everything in an instant.

Don’t give up hope.

How many times do we read that word suddenly in the Bible?

2.) We are never too far gone for God to do something in and through us.

I mean Saul was murdering Christians! Families, women and children! God still used him to write two thirds of the New Testament!

I love verse 21, it says that all who heard, “were astonished!”

I bet there are some people in our past that would be astonished if they saw us right now (hopefully in a good way!)

There are also probably some people in our lives, that if God got ahold of them, we’d be astonished.

Let’s let that affect how we treat the people in our lives who are living far from God right now. The people who seem, to many, to be beyond hope. (People like Saul before God changed everything in an instant and he became the Apostle Paul.)

Let’s remember how much God loves them and let’s try to love them the same way!

More: The Z

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Quick Thought | God Will Honor Our Obedience

A couple of weeks ago, my pastor posed a challenging question:

Do we TRUST God enough to OBEY Him?

See, God honors our obedience. [See Proverbs 10:2-3]

Shortcuts short change God’s glory AND our good.

What God has in store for us is far greater than anything we think our disobedience will do for us.

When we do what we know He wants us to–even when it’s hard, painful, or seems to make no sense–GOD will honor that choice. [Read Job 36:11, Isaiah 1:19 and the story of Jericho in Joshua 6:1-27.]

Remember what King David wrote in his older age, with the benefit of great experience:

“Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither. Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”
Psalm 37:1-2

Charles Spurgeon made a great point about how vital it is to trust in the Lord. He said, “Sight is cross-eyed, and views things only as they seem…faith has clearer optics to behold things as they really are.”

There’s an old hymn that sums it up well:

“Then in fellowship sweet
we will sit at his feet,
or we’ll walk by his side in the way;
what he says we will do,
where he sends we will go;
never fear, only trust and obey.”

More: Charles Spurgeon
Sean Sears / Grace Church
The story behind Trust And Obey

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Happy Veteran’s Day 2014

To anyone who’s ever worn the uniform, and their families, “Thank You!”

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for another.”

Or to be willing to…

I am humbled by your service and grateful beyond words.

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Quick Quote | Billy Graham: On Life

Billy Graham has been sharing the good news about Jesus with people for over 75 years.

Today, on his 96th birthday, he’s still doing just that.

The North Carolina country preacher, who’s brought the gospel to millions around the globe, is in a wheelchair now. But son, Franklin Graham says his dad’s mind is sharp as ever and he can still communicate.

Indeed.

Rev. Graham released a brand new movie today, featuring the powerful real life stories of several people, and a never before heard message of hope from Billy.

The 30 minute film, Heaven, can be viewed for free or purchased on DVD.

Happy birthday, Billy Graham! Thank you for your faithful service to The Lord, the legacy of changed lives and families, and the inspiration and example you’ve given to folks around the world, including this blogger.

More: Finding My Hope

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