Category Archives: Enduring Trials

Pray with Your Eyes on God – Not Your Difficulties

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“Then Peter called to him: ‘Sir, if it is really you, tell me to come over to you, walking on the water.’ ‘All right,’ the Lord said, ‘come along!’ So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.”

Matthew 14:28 – 30 TLB

We may not be called to walk on water, but we do walk through periods of tumultuous circumstances in life. Right now our world is battling the pandemic virus COVID-19, and we are being tossed about in uncharted waters of a global shutdown. Every time we turn on the television or scroll through social media, we are inundated with a flood of bad news. If we focus on the swirling waves of difficulties surrounding us, we can easily feel like we are being swallowed up by the surge of life’s problems.

Peter experienced a rather unusual example of God’s power when he went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. His faith in Jesus gave him the courage to throw his leg over the side of the boat and step out into the stormy sea.  However, his faith wavered when he realized what he was doing. Once he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the crushing waves around him, he began to sink.

Like Peter, we often start out with great intentions. We may be “prayed up” and filled with holy confidence before we begin to face the day. But once we wade into the undulating sea of life, our faith begins to falter, and we sink in despair. We feel ill-equipped to navigate the storms that batter us. Yet this doesn’t mean that we have failed. When Peter’s faith faltered, he immediately reached out to Jesus. In his time of greatest fear, he called on his Savior to rescue him.

When you are afraid of the troubles that swirl around you, keep your eyes on Jesus’ power rather than your own inadequacies. Call out to Him for help, and He will rescue you from the stormy seas.

“We have to pray with our eyes on God ~ not on the difficulties.” ~ Oswald Chambers

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:31-33

Every Storm Runs Out of Rain

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God is the ultimate // S t o r m  W h i s p e r e r ! //

He’s still in The business of calming storms — even pandemic life storms. When you feel like your courage is melting in the face of these desperate circumstances, call on the One who can hush the towering waves of panic and turn them into peace. 🌊 🌊🙏🏻☝🏻✌🏻🙌🏼

“So they cried out to the Lord in their distress, and God brought them out safe from their desperate circumstances. God quieted the storm to a whisper; the sea’s waves were hushed. So they rejoiced because the waves had calmed down; then God led them to the harbor they were hoping for.”

Psalm 107: 28 – 30 (CEB)

Choose Faith Over Fear

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Get vaccinated with a dose of Faith.

Read Psalm 91 aloud (below), and let the power of His words melt away your anxiety and fear. As you read the psalm, you can turn it into a powerful prayer to the Lord in behalf of you and your loved ones. God is greater than the hardships we face, and no problem is too great for God…not even COVID-19!

While He has us in a world-wide Holy Time-Out, you can replace panic with peace by spending time feasting on the soul food of His Good News, not the constant social feed of bad news.

God is teaching us to trust in HIM — Not the economy, not the stock market, not your job or your bank account.

Put your faith in the One who has overcome the world and rest in the shadow of His wings.

Choose Faith over Fear!

Psalm 91 ~

Whoever rests in the shadow of the Most High God
will be kept safe by the Mighty One.
 I will say about the Lord,
“He is my place of safety.
He is like a fort to me.
He is my God. I trust in him.”

He will certainly save you from hidden traps
    and from deadly sickness.
He will cover you with his wings.
Under the feathers of his wings you will find safety.
He is faithful. He will keep you safe like a shield or a tower.
You won’t have to be afraid of the terrors that come during the night.
You won’t have to fear the arrows that come at you during the day.
You won’t have to be afraid of the sickness that attacks in the darkness.
    You won’t have to fear the plague that destroys at noon.
A thousand may fall dead at your side.
Ten thousand may fall near your right hand.
But no harm will come to you.
You will see with your own eyes
how God punishes sinful people.

Suppose you say, “The Lord is the one who keeps me safe.”
Suppose you let the Most High God be like a home to you.
 Then no harm will come to you.
No terrible plague will come near your tent.
The Lord will command his angels
to take good care of you.
They will lift you up in their hands.
Then you won’t trip over a stone.
You will walk on lions and cobras.
You will crush mighty lions and poisonous snakes.

The Lord says, “I will save the one who loves me.
I will keep him safe, because he trusts in me.
 He will call out to me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him in times of trouble.
I will save him and honor him.
 I will give him a long and full life.
I will save him.”

 

 

 

Refining Moments Don’t Have to be Defining Moments

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And some who are most gifted in the things of God will stumble in those days and fall, but this will only refine and cleanse them and make them pure until the final end of their trials, at God’s appointed time.

Daniel 11:35(TLB)

We’ve all heard stories of famous celebrities and athletes at the pinnacle of their careers, gifted with incredible talent and success, who make reckless decisions causing them to stumble and fall. Like sharks in a feeding frenzy, the media quickly exploits these stories to an audience eager for any morsel of juicy details.

There are even biblical examples from our Superstars of Faith who stumbled:

  • Noah became shamelessly drunk on wine.
  • Abraham doubted God would give him and Sarah a son, so he took matters into his own hands and fathered a child with Hagar.
  • Moses lost his temper and disobeyed God’s instructions, costing him the chance to enter the Promised Land.
  • David committed adultery and had a man murdered to cover up his transgression.
  • Peter denied that he ever knew Christ.

We don’t have to be famous to find ourselves in the same types of situations.

We’re all imperfect humans, capable of missteps along the way. Our mistakes aren’t always reported in the judgmental view of the public eye or recorded in the Bible for generations of people to read, but we often find ourselves under the microscope of shame in our own eyes, feeling completely defined by our failures.

For believers, God uses these painful experiences to refine us.

The industrial process of refinement takes a substance with imperfections and impurities, purifying it to its most usable form. The spiritual process of refinement works the same way, only God purifies our lives to bring us to our most usable form for His kingdom.

Refinement removes our impurities.

When we emerge on the other side of the refinement process, we are cleansed and polished, more perfectly suited for God’s call on our lives. Without the cloudy imperfections, we shine for God’s glory!

As children of God, our Refining Moments don’t have to be our Defining Moments.

Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Peter are famous for their faithfulness to God and their work in His kingdom ~ NOT for their failures. Their Refining Moments were not their Defining Moments!

God promises that He can make all things – even our failures – work together for good in the lives of His children. (Romans 8:28) He wants to use every detail of our story for His glory ~ even the times when we stumble and fall.

 

Related Scripture:

Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. 1 Peter 1:7 – 9 (MSG)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

The Problem with Bubble-Wrapped Lives

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“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.” James 1: 2-5 (Phillips)

I’ll admit it. I wish I could bubble-wrap my sons to keep them free from injury, loss, rejection, failure, heartbreak, insults, or any other painful misfortune life might hurl in their direction. Especially now that my youngest son is driving, I dream about this possibility whenever he leaves the house with keys in hand!

But I recently read about a fascinating experiment in the Arizona desert where scientists attempted to create a perfect living environment for plants, animals, and humans under a protective biodome. This closed ecological system grew fruits, vegetables and trees and was sustained with purified water and air, nutrient-rich soil, and filtered light – a seemingly ideal habitat.

However, the perfect environment did not produce perfect results.

After a period of time, scientists noted a baffling phenomenon. After reaching a certain height, trees in the biosphere toppled over. This puzzled the scientists until they discovered a missing element in their biosphere. They forgot to include wind! Trees need wind to develop strong roots. When winds blow against trees, their root systems grow deeper, which support them as they grow taller.

We wish our lives could be lived in a virtual biosphere, free from the tensions and strains of outside influences. Yet, when daily challenges push against us, they are strengthening our “roots” and producing true patience and endurance, which will equip us for the journey ahead.

So if we bubble-wrap our kids, protecting them from all of life’s struggles, we are setting them up to topple over as adults. They will never develop deep roots of character, perseverance, and resiliency. Without trial-and-error learning, they won’t develop the problem solving skills they need as adults. And, most importantly, we risk losing the opportunity of teaching them to turn to God for help, which deepens their spiritual roots.

Remove the protective layer and allow their roots to grow deep so they will one day stand independently and tall!

“Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life…” James 1:12a