1 Samuel 30:1-6 KJV And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
Last August (2016) I started a blog category “Don’t Be Discouraged”. In the first post “Don't Become Trapped By Discouragement” I included some of the lyrics to an old gospel song I Won’t ComplaIn. The lyrics that kept running through my mind before I wrote the post were;
I've had some good days
I've had some hills to climb
I've had some weary days
And some lonely nights
But when I look around and I think
Things over...all of my good days,
They outweigh my weary days - I won't complain
David could certainly agreed with these lyrics. He had some good days. As a shepherd he had protected his father’s sheep from lion and bear attacks, he had killed the giant Goliath and become a hero in Israel, he was a very successful military commander, and he married the king’s daughter.
He had also had some very bad days. King Saul, whose army David had “bailed out” when he killed Goliath, whose disposition he settled by playing music when he was “freaking out”, whose army that he led to victory after victory, wanted to kill him. Things got so bad that he had to run for his life for years. After he became the king one of his sons raped his own sister, another of his sons killed the rapist, the rapist son led a rebellion against him. He had an affair with one of his soldier’s wife and then had him killed. The son born as a result of the adulterous affair died. Those were some bad days.
The scripture that I started this post with was a bad day for David. He and his men arrived home after another bad when he was rejected and sent home by another king that he had helped (read 1 Samuel 29) . That’s two bad days in a row actually four bad days. When he got home he found that his wife, children, and all his stuff, along with the wives, children and all the stuff of all his men were gone. That’s cause for great discouragement because not only was his family and all his stuff gone, his men were talking about assassinating him. However David’s discouragement doesn’t appear to have lasted long because the Scripture says that he encouraged himself in God and then went on to recover everything that had been taken. He didn’t become trapped by discouragement he turned it upside down with encouragement and that encouragement in the Lord.
Read this excerpt from God Comes Through On Time one of my quiet time reading plans from YouVersion. The reading plan was provided by Kennetra A. Bryant, Ed.D from GOD COMES THROUGH ON TIME - Bible Plan & Discussion Questions - (The scriptures are my inserts)
In scripture, David experienced a devastating, overwhelming event. David returned home with his men only to find that the Amalekites raided and burned his land with fire and took captive the women and children. David and the people who were with him wept until they were too exhausted to weep any more, and the people with David spoke of stoning him.
Everyone was affected and in distress, but God came through in timely encouragement. Remember David had a relationship with God; David was a worshiper and a man after God’s own heart. So even in the midst of distress, the scripture states that David felt strengthened and encouraged in the LORD His God and sought God’s direction regarding his troubles and David recovered all that the enemy stole from him.
After David encouraged himself in God, I believe he was able to inquire of God’s direction because he had faith and witnessed God’s provision, protection, and promises performed in the past and knew without a doubt that God would come through for him.
Life’s challenging obstacles can cause us to feel overwhelmed with heartache, sadness, and despair. Sometime those challenges are our own fault. At other times it was something done to us by someone else. It may not have been anybody's fault just the result of living in a fallen world, or they may have been direct demonic attacks. No matter the source, during these challenging experiences in our lives, it is vital that we draw close to God so He will draw close to us.
James 4:7-10 NIV Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. Although you face troubles, remember that God, our heavenly, all-knowing Father, knew what you would encounter before the foundations of the earth were laid.
That unpleasant, life-changing experience you faced might’ve been a shock to you, but God knew about that before He created you and He already set up an internal encouragement system within you to assist you during difficult times, when you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal LORD and Savior. Despite the setbacks, detours, and pit stops you face, remember that God has a purpose for you that will be fulfilled.
Romans 8:28-30 NIV And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
You’ve probably experienced a situation similar to David when your steps were ordered to return to a place and everything was totally out of your control, individuals connected to you were negatively impacted and their actions and words indicated that they wanted to get rid of you! I know that i have, several times. Let this be encouragement to you that no matter the situation you are facing or have faced, allow God’s encouragement system to kick in (The Holy Spirit) and inquire of Him at all times regarding your route of divine recovery. God, in his mercy, comes through on time for you!
Romans 8:31-39 NIV What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is very important to understand. When you blow it as a believer, God doesn’t get mad at you. God doesn’t want to get even with you. God doesn’t start planning to mess up your life. God always acts in mercy toward you. Why? Because you’re covered in the blood of Jesus Christ when you’ve accepted him as Savior. That’s why God responds in mercy every time you mess up.
Titus 3:3-7 NIV At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
And that should give you hope!
We’ve all heard the idiom (a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words) “he (I) had a come to Jesus moment”. In doing some research about the statement here’s what I found at Grammist.com;
A come-to-Jesus moment may refer to the moment in which a person has a religious conversion and dedicates his life to Jesus. However, the term has also taken on a more secular meaning. A come-to-Jesus moment may refer to that point in time when someone has a realization, becomes enlightened, understands the core values that must be preserved in a situation. The phrase come-to-Jesus moment is often used when describing the moment when a politician, employee or child understands that he is on the wrong path and must change direction, it is often considered a positive development.
In most cases a come to Jesus moment is positive in that it’s the moment that you realize that your trust should be in God and not a person, including yourself. It’s that moment that you realize that you’ve reached “the end of your rope”, “the bottom of the barrel” (more idioms). For me it was at a time when I had been unemployed for several months with no hot prospects for employment. In fact there were no prospects at all, hot or cold. I thought that because of the life that I was living at the time (I was saved but you couldn’t tell it by my life) God was punishing me. My “come to Jesus moment” was, when in a counseling session with my pastor, I learned from Scripture that God wasn’t punishing me. He punishes sin at the judgement on the return of Jesus. Since I was saved I would not be punished because Jesus had already been punished for my sin.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (HCSB) He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
What was happening to me was the consequences of my sin, which left me not being sure of myself, and feeling unworthy. When I realized that when I sinned I was really sinning against God and that He will forgive me if I ask Him to.
Psalm 51:4 (HCSB) Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge.
He would not only forgive me but also cleanse me of my unrighteousness. In other words let me know that I’m alright with Him.
1 John 1:9-10 (HCSB) 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Once I had that “come to Jesus moment” my outlook changed, my job search changed, I was confident again, and very soon I had a job. There have been bumps in the road since then but my relationship with God has continued to grow and He has always been there.
We’ve all had or will have a “come to Jesus moment”, but few of us have had a moment as spectacular as Jacob. His was so spectacular that at the end of it he got a new name.
The Story Devotional published by Zondervan tells the story of Jacob’s “come to Jesus moment”.
The “Come to Jesus” Moment
from The Story Devotional
Jacob said to his household, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves… Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God.” So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem. — Genesis 35:2–4
Maybe you’ve had a “Come to Jesus” moment, a point in your life when you finally realized you were headed in the wrong direction, that you were going nowhere fast, that you were not making Mom proud, that you could hardly look at yourself in the mirror.
Jacob had chronic hip pain to remind him of his “Come to Jesus” moment — and clearly the moment affected more than his hip. His heart was changed too: he called the people to abandon their false gods and turn to the one true God, the One who answered Jacob’s prayers and “has been with me wherever I have gone” (Genesis 35:3).
Then the Lord blessed Jacob by reiterating the promises spoken to his grandfather and his father:
A nation and a community of nations will come from you… The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you. — Genesis 35:11–12
Great is God’s faithfulness to all generations!
Write down for future generations stories of God’s faithfulness to generations of your family.
Excerpted with permission from The Story Devotional, copyright Zondervan.
Max Lucado also writes about Jacob’s “come to Jesus moment” in his book God Came Near
In the Mud of Jabbok
by Max Lucado, from God Came Near
No man is too bad for God. — Max Lucado
He was the riverboat gambler of the patriarchs. A master of sleight of hand and fancy footwork. He had gained a seamy reputation of getting what he wanted by hook or crook — or both. Twice he dealt hidden cards to his dull-witted brother Esau in order to climb the family tree. He once pulled the wool over the eyes of his own father, a trick especially dirty since his father’s eyes were rather dim, and the wool he pulled insured him a gift he would never have received otherwise.
He later conned his father-in-law out of his best livestock and, when no one was looking, he took the kids and the cattle and skedaddled.
Yes, Jacob had a salty reputation, deservedly so. For him the ends always justified the means. His cleverness was outranked only by his audacity. His conscience was calloused just enough to let him sleep and his feet were just fast enough to keep him one step ahead of the consequences.
That is, until he reached a river called Jabbok (Genesis 32). At Jabbok his own cunning caught up with him.
Jacob was camped near the river Jabbok when word reached him that big, hairy Esau was coming to see him. It had been twenty years since Jacob had tricked his brother. More than enough time, Jacob realized, for Esau to stir up a boiling pot of revenge. Jacob was in trouble. This time he had no more tricks up his sleeve. He was finally forced to face up to himself and to God.
To Jacob’s credit, he didn’t run away from the problem. One has to wonder why. Maybe he was sick of running. Or maybe he was tired of looking at the shady character he saw every morning in the mirror. Or maybe he simply knew that he’d dealt from the bottom of the deck one too many times. Whatever the motivation, it was enough to cause him to come out of the shadows, cross Jabbok Creek alone, and face the facts.
The word Jabbok in Hebrew means “wrestle,” and wrestle is what Jacob did. He wrestled with his past: all the white lies, scheming, and scandalizing. He wrestled with his situation: a spider trapped in his own web of deceit and craftiness. But more than anything, he wrestled with God.
He wrestled with the same God who had descended the ladder at Bethel to assure Jacob he wasn’t alone (although he deserved to be). He met the same God who had earlier guaranteed Jacob that he would never break his promise (though one could hardly fault God if he did). He con- fronted the same God who had reminded Jacob that the land prepared for him was still his. (Proof again that God blesses us in spite of our lives and not because of our lives.)
Jacob wrestled with God the entire night.
On the banks of Jabbok he rolled in the mud of his mistakes. He met God face to face, sick of his past and in desperate need of a fresh start. And because Jacob wanted it so badly, God honored his determination. God gave him a new name and a new promise. But he also gave a wrenched hip as a reminder of that mysterious night at the river.
Jacob wasn’t the only man in the Bible to wrestle with self and God because of past antics. David did after his rendezvous with Bathsheba. Samson wrestled, blind and bald after Delilah’s seduction. Elijah was at his own Jabbok when he heard the “still, small voice.” Peter wrestled with his guilt with echoes of a crowing cock still ringing in his ears.
And I imagine that most of us have spent some time on the river banks as well.
Our scandalous deeds have a way of finding us.
Want some examples? Consider these scenes.
The unfaithful husband standing at the table with a note from his wife in his hands, “I couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve taken the kids with me.”
The twenty-year-old single in the doctor’s office. The words are still fresh on her mind, “The test was positive. You are pregnant.”
The businessman squirming in the IRS office. “Your audit shows that you took some loopholes that weren’t yours to take.”
The red-faced student who got caught red-handed copying the test answers of someone else. “We’ll have to notify your parents.”
All of us at one time or another come face to face with our past. And it’s always an awkward encounter.
When our sins catch up with us we can do one of two things: run or wrestle.
Many choose to run. They brush it off with a shrug of rationalization. “I was a victim of circumstances.” Or, “It was his fault.” Or, “There are many who do worse things.” The problem with this escape is that it’s no escape at all. It’s only a shallow camouflage. No matter how many layers of make-up you put over a black eye, underneath it is still black. And down deep it still hurts.
Jacob finally figured that out. As a result, his example is one worthy of imitation. The best way to deal with our past is to hitch up our pants, roll up our sleeves, and face it head on. No more buck-passing or scape-goating. No more glossing over or covering up. No more games. We need a confrontation with our Master.
We too should cross the creek alone and struggle with God over ourselves. We too should stand eyeball to eyeball with Him and be reminded that left alone we fail. We too should unmask our stained hearts and grimy souls and be honest with the One who knows our most secret sins.
The result could be refreshing. We know it was for Jacob. After his encounter with God, Jacob was a new man. He crossed the river in the dawn of a new day and faced Esau with newly found courage.
Each step he took, however, was a painful one. His stiff hip was a reminder of the lesson he had learned at Jabbok: shady dealings bring pain. Mark it down: play today and tomorrow you’ll pay.
And for you who wonder if you’ve played too long to change, take courage from Jacob’s legacy.
No man is too bad for God.
To transform a riverboat gambler into a man of faith would be no easy task. But for God, it was all in a night’s work.
Excerpted with permission from God Came Near by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
When was your "come to Jesus moment"?
Over the past two years I’ve written a number of posts dealing with failure and God’s use of those of us who have failed (Don’t Be Discouraged). While we may have failed, some of us several times, we are not, in God’s eyes, failures. Moses, David, Peter, and Paul failed at times in their lives yet God used them in major ways. Their failures didn’t disqualify them and our failures won’t disqualify us.
God can use our failures to accomplish His purpose for us which is to conform us to the image of His Son.
Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)28 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.29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Failure Is Not Fatal)
I also wrote You Are Defined By Your Deliverance Not Your Failures. The point of that post was to let your identity come from how God rescued you and not with what you needed rescuing from.
Don’t Be Discouraged
Don’t let your failures be a tool used by Satan to mess with your mind and cause you to feel shame, condemnation, despair, and depression. If we dwell on our failures we become discouraged and discouragement can become a trap. When you fall into the trap of discouragement you can’t focus on anything other than the current circumstance. Discouragement if not dealt with can become depression. When you are trapped by discouragement you make poor decisions based on emotion not truth. Then our natural tendency is to look for someone to blame. You start to blame yourself, other people even God. God wants us to trust Him with everything including our unmet expectations.
Psalm 42:11 (NLT) Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Don’t Become Trapped By Discouragement)
Don’t Give In To Shame
Another thing that comes from dwelling on failures is shame. When we fail to live up to the expectations of our loved ones, our employers, ourselves, and especially what we know to be God’s will for us shame descends on us. Shame is defined as a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
Shame affects everything you do. You don’t want to be around people because you’re afraid that they will know or find out how you failed and it will somehow damage your relationship with them so you aren’t free and open in that relationship. Your relationship and communication with God become less and less because you stop praying as often as you did before and you may stop entirely because you are so ashamed of what you did or what someone did to you.
Shame, just like discouragement, can become a trap of the enemy. He will use your shame to stop you from talking to the one person that can change your perspective. The one person who loves you no matter what.
1 John 4:9-10, 17-19 (NKJV)9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.19 We love Him because He first loved us.
Recently I read an excerpt from the book The Christian Atheist which the Bible Study Group that I lead at my church is studying. That excerpt titled "When You Believe in God But Are Ashamed of Your Past" gives some suggestions in how to deal with shame so that it is no longer shame but testimony that helps others who are dealing with something in their past. Something that’s keeping them from living in the freedom that comes with salvation. The kind of testimony that shows unbelievers that nothing is so bad that God can’t and won’t forgive, heal, and save.
It’s Always the Shame
From The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschell
As a pastor, I’ve discovered that many people are dying slowly in a secret tomb of shame. Some are ashamed of their poor financial condition, plagued with guilt about their irresponsible spending and debt. Others are ashamed about sexual sin from their past. Many carry extreme guilt with them into their future relationships. Countless people are crippled by the shame of secret addictions. Some people even live with false guilt after suffering as victims of sexual abuse.
Shame usually follows a pattern — a cycle of self-recrimination and lies that claims life after life. First, we experience an intensely painful event. Second, we believe the lie that our pain and failure is who we are — not just something we’ve done, or had done to us — and we experience shame. And finally, our feelings of shame trap us into thinking that we can never recover — that, in fact, we don’t even deserve to.
A few years ago, our church built the website www.mysecret.tv, where people could anonymously confess to anything and invite others to pray for them. Many of the gut wrenchingly honest confessions recorded there illustrate the lies of the shame cycle that hurting people believe.
One girl wrote, “I was raped when I was nine, and for some time I messed around with other boys sexually. I’m ashamed of this and have only told two people about the rape. I know I was just a child, but it still makes me think I’m a horrible person. Because of what I did, I feel dirty and don’t think anyone will really love me.”
A young man confessed, “I videotaped my little sister undressing. Thank God she caught me the very first time. I got into huge trouble and I’m glad I did. Otherwise, I could have traveled down a very bad path. I’ve never done anything like that again, but I hate myself for what I did. I feel like I ruined my whole family. My sister hates me. My family hates me. Everyone hates me. I’m a monster.”
When our past pain becomes our present identity, the shame cycle has claimed yet another victim.
Like a child who repeatedly picks at a scab, many hurt people live a life of unhealed pain.
Finding a Way Out
Please understand that there is a way out of the cycle. It is different for each person, but it is also possible for each person, by the grace of God, no matter how uniquely and irreversibly crippling that person’s shame might feel.
When we let shame control our actions, we cannot know God, because we cannot live our lives for him. Christian Atheists may live as if God doesn’t exist because, in their cycle of shame, it doesn’t seem as if He does.
One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, broke out of his prison of shame, although the struggle was long. Jesus had predicted this fisherman-turned-disciple’s betrayal, and Peter immediately and passionately denied that he’d ever turn on Jesus.
“I’ll stand faithfully by you until the end,” he insisted.
Unfortunately, real-life events soon proved Peter wrong. A rooster’s crow reminded Peter of his denial, forcing him to face his crushing triple failure. Yet Peter refused to believe the lie that his betrayal now branded him a traitor. Broken and repentant, Peter cried out to God for forgiveness. After His resurrection, Jesus honored Peter’s desperate plea.
Jesus’ forgiveness and restoration gave Peter a renewed passion, and the courage to preach a daring message at Pentecost and become one of the fathers of the Christian church.
His failure — transformed from tragedy into triumph through Peter’s repentance and God’s forgiveness — became a character-building lesson that led the way to kingdom victory.
Breaking the Shackles of Shame
Like Peter, Christian Atheists can break free from the cycle of shame.
We live lives of private defeat, but God wants to renew our hearts and minds and to send us into His world as lights shining in the darkness. Like Peter, we can become convinced of the truth: namely, that we are not our sins. And we’re also not what others have done to us.
Rather, we are who God says we are: His children. We are forgivable. We are changeable. We are capable. We are moldable. And we are bound by the limitless love of God.
The first step to overcoming shame is to accept that which cannot be changed.
In the Old Testament, King David seduced his friend’s wife, impregnated her, and used his power to ensure that his friend was killed in battle. A trusted confidante named Nathan later confronted David about his sin. David must have felt he had every reason to listen to the lies of shame. But instead of giving in to a lifelong spin cycle, he brought his past into the open, hoping to find a way forward. Psalm 51 records the beautiful repentance of a fallen king:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:1-2, Psalm 51:10-12
David didn’t try to pretend he was innocent — he was honest. But neither did he allow the guilt trap to rob him — or God — of the joy of a life redeemed and restored. He knew he couldn’t change the past, but he hoped he could change the future.
When we hope in what God has promised — commanded — our hope is the same as certainty.
Just before surrendering my life to Christ in college, I made a bad decision, one that was all too similar to David’s. I was dating a sweet Christian girl, and because I wasn’t a Christian, I gave in to a destructive temptation. At the time, I was the president of my fraternity and had a “little brother,” a younger fraternity member under my care. He too had a serious girlfriend. One night at a party when he was out of town, his girlfriend made advances toward me. I resisted at first, but after a few more drinks, I betrayed my girlfriend and my little brother. Within a matter of days, our hookup became public knowledge, and I went from being a respected leader to a despised traitor. Life as I knew it was over.
I didn’t see how anyone could be salvaged after committing such a betrayal. Yet I feared enough — and dared to hope enough — for my future that I somehow allowed my sin to drive me toward God, rather than farther away from him. By God’s grace, instead of turning inward to a prison of shame, I turned upward to the God of healing and hope.
With the help of a wise friend, I realized that although I couldn’t undo what I had done, I could do the right things from that point forward. My attempt at restitution started with several genuine apologies. I wasn’t surprised to discover that the people I wounded didn’t immediately forgive me. But my repentance was the first step in the right direction. And even though my attempts to make amends didn’t instantly heal our broken relationships, they did help start the healing of my own inner brokenness. Over time, because of the restoring power of Christ, we became friends again.
For many, it is difficult to accept that the past has passed. Sometimes, it’s so hard just to leave it there, where it belongs. But until we do, we cannot make peace with the present or walk into the future with hope.
Changing Your Future
Once we accept the unchangeable past, we must embrace that God can change our future.
While we may always remember what happened, we need to believe that we are not what happened. We are who God says we are — new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we reject what our shame says about us, we can finally hear what God says about us. He is working in all things to bring about good in our lives because we love God and are called according to his purposes (Romans 8:28).
If you are living with a secret shame, God can do a similar miracle for you. And when He does, we can be even better than new! Once a broken bone heals, it is often strongest at the point of the fracture. In the same way, God can take the shame of past failures and amazingly redirect their outcomes toward your future success. I betrayed my college friends. In fact, I routinely cheated on girlfriends. Deep down I wondered if I could ever be faithful to one woman in marriage. By God’s power, He took the shame of my past, forgave me, and made me better than new. My one-time weakness was replaced with an equal and opposite strength. My faithfulness to my wife, in every respect, is an important part of my story. What was previously a deep sense of sin and shame, God used for good. He’s eager to do the same in you.
Excerpted with permission from The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist by Craig Groeschel, copyright Craig Groeschel. Published by Zonderv
There have been times in most of our lives where we felt that we were at the end of our rope. All hope was gone. We didn’t have the money to pay our rent or mortgage, plus buy food, or gas to get to work, even if we had a job. The future was bleak. There was nobody we could call on. This was it...the end. The only thing that we could do was to fall on our face and cry out to God in desperation. “God if you don’t help I can’t go on. If you don’t help I won’t survive. Please help me.”
That’s not the prayer that we like to pray. We like the prayers when we are thanking God for all that He’s done for us. The prayer where we are asking God to bless our friends and families. The prayer that we pray everyday following the pattern of the Lord’s prayer; “Give us this day our daily bread, etc. etc. No, this time it’s a prayer of desperation because we’re in trouble and and have nowhere to turn. We’ve reached the point where we are sick and tired of the situation we’re in. Tired of being in need, or sick, or confused, or anxious, or afraid We’ve reached the bottom of the barrell.
We know that we’re not alone because we hear of the trials and tribulations of other believers but those are their trials and tribulations these are ours. We go to the Psalms and read of the times that David pleaded for deliverance from his enemies sometimes even fearing death, but those were David’s times these are ours.
Then there’s the story of Hannah who was miserable because she had been unable to conceive. She had reached the point of desperation. On one trip to Jerusalem for one of the festivals Hannah in desperation prayed for a son. She was so desperate she said that if God blessed her with a son she would give him to God. After praying that desperate prayer Hannah became pregnant and the Prophet and last Judge of Israel was born to a woman who prior to that time was barren. Not only did Hannah conceive Samuel, who she did give to God, she had five more children, three more sons and two daughters.
1 Samuel 2:21 (NKJV) And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the LORD.
Hannah is an example to us that we should not let our current situation cause us to stop seeking God’s best for us. When we in our desperation cry out to God our desperation can become the first step in deliverance. Don’t let desperation become discouragement which is a trap of the enemy.
When you fall into the trap of discouragement, there is no joy or contentment, no matter what you do. It’s Satan’s, objective for you to question or to blame God for every discouraging thing that’s happening to you. He puts it in your mind that after all if God is all powerful He would keep those discouraging things from happening to you.
The circumstances that trigger disappointment may be unavoidable, but the way we respond is a choice. We can either let the disappointment overwhelm us or we can face the situation with courage and take it to the One who can help us through them. Remember He promised to never leave or forsake us. (Don’t Become Trapped By Discouragement)
Don’t be proud...cry out in desperation!
Jim Cymbaila, author and Pastor the Brooklyn Tabernacle tell the story of that prayer of desperation in his book Storm: Hearing Jesus for the Times We Live In
The Power of Desperate Prayer
Editor’s Note: The complete text of the referenced scriptures were added for emphasis by me
After the dark period described in the Old Testament book of Judges, Israel’s desperate situation began to turn around with the prayer of a woman named Hannah. She had had enough and decided she could not take it any longer.
Hannah was one of two wives married to a man named Elkanah. The other wife had children, but Hannah was barren. According to the Bible, Peninnah, the rival wife, would mock Hannah and make fun of her, “provoking her in order to irritate her” because “the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb”.
1 Samuel 1:2 (NKJV) And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Day after day, year after year, Hannah was teased and taunted, mocked and ridiculed.
Every year Elkanah’s family went to the tabernacle of the Lord in Shiloh, which was the center of worship in Israel. There the family would offer sacrifices to the Lord. But that’s also when Peninnah’s taunting of Hannah increased, to the point where Hannah wept so hard she could no longer eat.
1 Samuel 1:3-8 (NKJV)3 This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.4 And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters.5 But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb.6 And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the LORD had closed her womb.7 So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.8 Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"
Each year this pattern repeated. Her husband, Elkanah, loved Hannah and gave her extra portions of the sacrifice, but that didn’t heal his wife’s pain. Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted?” he would ask Hannah. “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”
1 Samuel 1:8 (NKJV) Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"
Then one year, something snapped inside of Hannah, and she suddenly refused to endure the taunts of Peninnah and accept her childless status. Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up.
1 Samuel 1:9 (NKJV) So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD.
Hannah left the table and went to pray near the doorpost of the tabernacle. It was a moment with historic ramifications.
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly”
1 Samuel 1:10 (NKJV) And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish.
She didn’t recite mental prayers as we often do; her heart went out to the Lord. Amid the backslidden and even corrupt religious establishment of that day, we see a desperate, simple woman stirred to pray a prayer that will usher in a new day in Israel’s history. In her prayer she promised God that if he gave her a son, she would dedicate him to the Lord for as long as he lived. When she finished praying, she got something to eat, and her face was no longer downcast .
1 Samuel 1:18 (NKJV) And she said, "Let your maidservant find favor in your sight." So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
It was as if she knew something was about to change.
The next morning Elkanah’s family arose and worshiped God before they headed back home to Ramah. Once there, Elkanah made love to his wife as he had so often done before, but this time “the Lord remembered her”
1 Samuel 1:19 (NKJV) Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her.
Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.
Now, what was it that stirred Hannah to pray a prayer that changed the future of Israel?
Hannah could have chosen to live in denial. When Peninnah mocked her, she could have said, “Who cares? I’m not into kids. I don’t want to change diapers anyway!” But she didn’t. She faced the truth (as painful as it was), saying, “I want a baby, I want a son, I want to be fruitful.”
Hannah could have forgotten her heartache and just rejoiced in the fact that she was a child of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and a part of the covenant people of Israel. Or she could have looked at her situation and said, “I don’t have a child, so it must be God’s sovereign will that I don’t.”
But she didn’t do either of those things. Hannah’s story shows us that she did not deny her barrenness, but neither did she accept it. Her unique prayer became the channel that God both prompted and then used to turn the tide in Israel and bring much-needed blessing upon them. The lesson is clear for us today.
We must not silently accept our lack of fruitfulness and somehow justify it as God’s will for us.
Imagine if Hannah had said, “Well, I guess I’m not supposed to have a baby.”
No, as hard as it was, she honestly faced her circumstances and then desperately prayed for God to change them. What was in her mighty prayer that God could not ignore? None of us totally understands the power of prayer, but we know that Hannah’s prayer was powerful and effective, the kind James describes in his epistle.
James 5:16 (NKJV) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Yet if I had to guess, I would say it was both the heightened element of desperation coupled with deep faith in God. Hannah had no other place to turn. It was as if, in her great anguish and grief, she cried, “Make me fruitful, or I don’t want to go on.” She was at her end. “Give me a child or I will die!”
God heard Hannah’s weeping, and her prayer became the pathway to divine intervention. Furthermore, God wanted her story told in detail in the Bible, so future generations would recognize that Israel’s turnaround started with a lonely, heartbroken woman who just wanted to bear fruit.
Desperate and soul-stirring prayers like hers result in answers.
When God is sought in desperation, he responds.
Even in hopeless situations.
Excerpted from Storm: Hearing Jesus for the Times We Live In by Jim Cymbala, copyright Zondervan.
To purchase a copy of Storm: Hearing Jesus for the Times We Live In click or touch the links or images.
Not too long ago I wrote a post “Why Why Why”. I wrote it because when tragedy strikes, one of the first questions we ask is why. It could be a serious illness, death of a loved one, the end of a close personal relationship, or loss of a job resulting in financial catastrophe When these things happen, like Job’s friends, many Christians say that God must be punishing you for something you did or didn’t do.
When we read the first two chapter of Job we learn that God did not do, or cause the things that his friends, and Job himself believed that God did. Satan is the one ruined Job financially, caused the death of his children, and eventually ruined Job’s health. God allowed all these things but did not do them. We learn that Job asked God why these things happened, and God never gave him an answer. In the end Job received double what was lost because he never lost his integrity.
The point is that while the “why” behind suffering is almost always a mystery, there are two realities that are certain: Nothing happens to us that isn’t filtered through the Father’s hand of love. And if God allows hard times in our lives, he is always using them for good. Always.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Think about it, if on the one hand we say that God is love, merciful, faithful, compassionate, and forgiving, and on the other hand say that God took a loved one, or caused a natural disaster just to punish, or teach us a lesson what kind of message are we sending?
I have long believed that the Bible teaches that God’s punishment comes at the time of His judgement, and what we call punishment is really discipline.
This does not mean that accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is license to do whatever you want to do, without consequences. Especially if your actions are in direct contradiction or disobedience to the will of God. Just as children are disciplined by their parents for disobedience, because they love them and want them to learn from their mistakes, God disciplines His children (those saved by grace) because He loves us and wants us to learn from our mistakes.
Hebrews 12:5-11 (NLT)5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.6 For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
The goal of discipline is to bring about change, punishment merely metes out justice.
The purpose of punishment is to inflict penalty.
The purpose of discipline is to promote growth.
The focus of punishment is on the past — what you've done wrong.
The focus of discipline is on the future — what you can be
.The attitude behind punishment is anger. The attitude behind discipline is love. - Rick Warren
A few days ago I read, God Wants the Best for Us, written by Dr. Charles Stanley. In it Dr. Stanley says that God wants the best for us, even in tragedy, and while that tragedy may be discipline (chastisement) it is not punishment.
God Wants the Best for Us
Often when tragedies strike or hard times engulf us, we ask, “Where’s God?” In asking this question, we make the assumption that God must not have known what was about to befall us or else, if He were powerful enough, He would have prevented it. Or we assume that God must not love us, because surely if He loved us, He would keep us from all hurtful times and hard experiences.
We might think that, but none of that is the truth.
This is the truth: God knows. God is powerful. And God loves.
Blameless, Upright, and Broken
When we experience difficult times or feel great inner pain and turmoil, we usually try to assign blame. We say either, “The devil caused this” or “God caused this.”
The greater likelihood is this: the devil caused it, and God allowed it.
Consider the Old Testament story of Job, who was described as being “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). Yet God gave Satan permission to “strike everything [Job] has” (Job 1:11), but not Job himself.
God allowed Job to suffer incredible loss for reasons that were God’s alone.
Throughout Job’s pain and losses, however, God never abandoned Job for even a moment. He knew at each step of the way how greatly Job was being afflicted. And our sovereign God was overseeing this refining of Job.
The good news for us anytime we find ourselves being broken is this: our sovereign God is overseeing the refining process in our lives. He sees the beginning and the end. He has a good future designed for us, and ultimately heaven awaits.
We can be sure that our period of brokenness is not the end, but rather, a passage and a process to a rich, new beginning.
Yes, God knows. God is powerful. And God loves.
God Always Acts Out of Love
The motivation behind everything God does in our lives and everything He allows to enter our lives is love.
God is never acting in anger or wrath when He breaks us. Rather, God moves in our lives because He loves us too much to see us continue in our sin, remain in a lukewarm spiritual state, or go unfulfilled in His purposes for our lives. God moves in our lives so that we might change, grow, and become both spiritually mature and whole in spirit, mind, and body.
Chastisement Versus Punishment
God’s love prompts Him to chastise us when necessary. Chastisement is God’s method of disciplining us. God’s purpose is to lead us to confront, remove, or change those habits, attitudes, and beliefs that keep us from growing into the full stature of Christ’s likeness.
Punishment is for unbelievers. It is an expression of God’s wrath against those who have rejected the only Sin-bearer who can save a sinful person from that wrath. Our holy God cannot tolerate sin. He must eradicate it from His presence. The unbeliever is in an awesome, terrible position — totally exposed to God’s wrath.
Punishment flows from God’s wrath; chastisement flows from God’s love.
And God loves us so much that He longs for us to reflect His very nature and, literally, to be the body of Christ on the earth today. The chastisement we experience is a means of refinement: just as refining removes the dross and impurities from metal, so God strips us of the sin and the faults that keep us from being made whole.
God Does Not Want to Break Our Spirits
God’s purpose is not to break our spirits, but rather — and for our good — to break the stubbornness of our wills. He does this so He might effect His will in our lives.
A good parent knows that a child’s streak of stubbornness and pride must be broken. The breaking of a child’s stubbornness is not done to break the child’s spirit, but rather, to help the child grow up to be a productive, law-abiding, generous, and loving spouse, friend, parent, citizen, and member of the body of Christ.
Just as a parent breaks a child’s stubborn pride and willful disobedience, so God seeks to break within us the pride and disobedience that keep us from being loving, generous, Christlike people.
God Does Not Delight in Causing Us Pain
Just as it is not God’s desire to break our spirits, neither is it God’s purpose to cause us pain.
Our heavenly Father, the sovereign God, has a purpose in allowing bad things to happen, and His purpose extends not only to my life alone or yours alone, but to the lives of many people whom you and I may influence and help.
If we believe Romans 8:28 to be true, we must believe it to be true for all circumstances in our lives:
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Whatever it is that we may experience and however we may be broken, God has a good end for us.
We must never limit God’s ability to redeem even the worst, most pain-filled experience in our lives and turn it into something worthwhile, something that is good for us and that glorifies Him.
Regardless of the source of our pain, we must accept that God knows, God is powerful, God loves, and God is at work. We may not be responsible for what has happened to us, but we are responsible for our response to it. We must ask ourselves, “How can I walk through this pain? How can I benefit or profit spiritually from this?”
Where is God? He was with you at your first taste of pain, He has been with you in the darkness, He continues to be with you, and He will be with you as He uses this experience to do His refining work in your life.
So ask God to reveal to you what He is doing in your life — and what He desires to do for you, in you, and through you as the result of your brokenness.
Ask Him to help you see your brokenness in light of His great design for your life.
Excerpted with permission from Finding God’s Blessings in Brokenness by Charles Stanley, copyright Charles F. Stanley. Published by Thomas Nelson.
I am unqualified!
How often have you said this when you are asked to do something for your church like lead a Bible Study, or small group? What about leading a fundraising effort or teaching a Sunday School class? We often say I’m not qualified even if what we’re asked to do is what we do everyday at work. There’s something about doing something that we think is spiritual that frightens us and we feel unqualified. I think it’s more that we feel unworthy rather than unqualified. I just wrote a post about failure (No Failure Is Fatal). In it I said that God doesn’t care what you’ve done in your past. Through Jesus, He’s forgiven you for any failures that resulted from your actions and He doesn’t hold you responsible for those failures that were not your fault. He even uses your failures to strengthen you. Read my post and you will see how he used Abraham, Moses, David, Peter and me. We all fail at some point in our lives and until we go the be with the Lord, in death, or Jesus returns we will probably fail at something again.
The List Of The Unqualified Is Long
How tragic it would be if we still thought, felt, and acted the same way we did before we received the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38 (NLT)38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit enables us to live as God directs and equips us. We don’t always live that way but we can because the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do it.
God is determined to accomplish His goals here on earth through unqualified people like us.
Isaiah, the great prayer warrior, was a man of like passions meaning, and just like the rest of us weak and wounded.
Isaiah 6:5-7 (NLT)5 Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
David, the man after God's own heart, was a murdering adulterer who had no moral right to any of God's blessings.
2 Samuel 12:13 (NLT) Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.
Acts 13:22 (NLT)22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’
Peter denied Jesus.
Matthew 26:73-74 (NLT)73 A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.”
74 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed.
John 21:17 (NLT)17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
Paul persecuted the church.
1 Corinthians 15:9 (NLT) For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.
The list goes on and on of people who loved God, people who were greatly used by God who felt themselves undeserving and unqualified.
2 Corinthians 4:7-13 (NLT)7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”
Maybe there's a flaw in your character you try to hide. Even if it's in the past, you may live in secret fear that one day it will come back, so you deem yourself unqualified.
Maybe you feel called to be a leader, a decision maker, a risk-taker. But your track record is far from spotless. And the thought of putting yourself out there is paralyzing,
Many of us fight these feelings. We consistently hear the voices telling us that we don't qualify, that they will never qualify, that we are totally disqualified. But God has a habit of picking people who have been passed over. If you look at the great men and women of Scripture, you will see that they have one thing in common: They were all unqualified.
God Is Not Looking For The Qualified
God is looking for people who will allow themselves to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. When Jesus called His disciples He called and selected 12 men most of them not even educated.
Acts 4:13 (NLT)13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
The Bible does not describe the backgrounds of all of Jesus’ disciples. It only reveals the vocations of Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen.
Matthew 4:18-22 (NLT)18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too.22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.
Matthew was a tax-collector
Matthew 10:3 (NLT) Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus,
We don’t really know the vocations of the rest are unknown. The names of all twelve are as follows: Yet they turned the world upside down.
Here’s what Paul told the Corinthians;
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NLT)26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
Don’t use your weaknesses and insecurity as an excuse of being unqualified. It’s not your qualifications that matter anyway. It’s God’s qualifications. Remember Moses’ excuse and God’s response.
Exodus 4:10-12 (NLT)10 But Moses pleaded with the LORD, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”11 Then the LORD asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD?12 Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”
Remember what God told Paul.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God Equips Those He Calls
Hebrews 13:20-21 (NLT)20 Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood--21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (NLT)8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
If He called you, you’re qualified!
"The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure." Sven Eriksson
"Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street." Zig Ziglar
"It is a mistake to suppose that people succeed through success; they often succeed through failures." Author unknown
Have you ever failed at anything? I’m not talking about failing a test in school, although that can be pretty traumatic. I’m not talking about a health related test either although failing one may mean life or death and even long term suffering. I'm talking about failures in the everyday things of life. Let me give you some examples of things I’ve failed at. I failed at my first marriage, I failed at jobs resulting in layoff and being fired, I’ve failed at managing my finances, and there have been other failures.
How did you feel when you failed? Here’s how I felt. I felt that I left my family down and by family I mean my entire family from my ancestors to my immediate family. I felt I let my friends down. I let my employer down. I let God down. I felt terrible. In short I felt like a failure.
Everyone wants to be a success. I have never met anyone who purposely set out to be a failure, but what’s important is what happens after failure. Do you wallow in the failure? Are you so afraid of failing again that you don’t do anything?
The fear of failure paralyzes or neutralizes many people. We consciously or subconsciously ignore our sins and failures because we believe to admit them is to admit failure. People often refuse to tackle a job or take on a responsibility for fear of failure. People believe if they fail they are no good. They think failure means you are a bad person and that YOU ARE A FAILURE!.
I’ll let you in on something that I learned even in the midst of my failures. God doesn’t care that you failed He can still use you. Think about that.
Romans 8:28, 35-37 (NLT) 28 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. 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Failure can be the result of others’ actions, circumstances beyond our control, our own actions, or a combination of all three.Whether caused by sin or something else, all failure teaches us the important truth of just how desperately we need God, His mercy and His grace in our lives. Failure can become tools for growth and deeper levels of trust and commitment to God. Failures are reminders that we must live with eternity in mind.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
God used failures all the time. A study of Bible reveals that many of those who made great contributions to history were people who failed at some point, some of them pretty bad. The one common thing among them is that they repented of their failures. They learned to know God as the God of the second chance and sometimes third and fourth chance. But, as previously mentioned, many of the great leaders in Scripture at some time in their careers experienced some sort of failure.
Let’s look at a few of them
After having been told by God that he and Sarah would have a son he agreed with Sarah to have a child with her slave Hagar.
Genesis 15:4 (NLT)4 Then the LORD said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.”
Genesis 16:1-2 (NLT)1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar.2 So Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.
Yet Abraham is championed as a hero of faith and called the “father of the faithful.”
Genesis 15:6 (NLT) And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Hebrews 11:12 (NLT)12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.
Jesus Christ came from the linage of Abraham.
Matthew 1:1, 16 (NLT)1 This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham: 16 Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
Exodus 2:11-12 (NLT)11 Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews.12 After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.
Later, against the command of God, he struck the rock in his anger.
Numbers 20:11-12 (NLT)11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”
Yet God chose Moses to lead the Hebrews from slavery to the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 34:10-12 (NLT)10 There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.11 The LORD sent him to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, and all his servants, and his entire land.12 With mighty power, Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel.
2 Samuel 11:2-5, 14-17 (NLT)2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath.3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home.5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.” 14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver.15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.”16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting.17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.
He ordered a census that resulted in the death of thousands.
2 Samuel 24:1-2 (NLT)1 Once again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the LORD told him.2 So the king said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Take a census of all the tribes of Israel—from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south—so I may know how many people there are.”
2 Samuel 24:15 (NLT)15 So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel that morning, and it lasted for three days. A total of 70,000 people died throughout the nation, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south.
Yet God calls David a man after his own heart.
Acts 13:22 (NLT) But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’
Matthew 26:33, 69-75 (NLT) Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” 69 Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.”70 But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.71 Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”72 Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. “I don’t even know the man,” he said.73 A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.”74 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed.75 Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.
Yet Jesus told Peter that the church would be based on his confession and then He forgave Peter and give Him a very important assignment.
Matthew 16:16-18 (NLT)16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
John 21:15-17 (NLT)15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
Failure teaches us to depend on God and His strength
Much like Paul when he asked God to remove something from his life.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT)8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Faith in Christ enables us to do through God’s power what we could not otherwise.
Philippians 4:13 (NLT)13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
It’s important to learn from our mistakes, but we can’t let them become obstacles. We have to move forward, trust God for both forgiveness and guidance, and prepare for what's next.
Now back to my failures
They are all behind me. My second marriage, while not perfect, was a blessing and not a failure. The jobs that I failed at prepared me for the successes I had later as a consultant and adviser to business and my church. Those experiences enable me to really understand how others feel under the same circumstances and I’m better able to counsel and advise them. My failure at financial management better enables me to advise individuals, small businesses, non-profit organizations, and my church. God has used all of these failures to equip me for the ministry that He prepared for me beforehand.
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
He will do the same for you so rejoice even in your failures.
God’s grace is greater than your failures!
Last July I wrote a post titled “Let God, Not Others, Determine The Value Of Your Work For Him” . In that post I wrote that when you get discouraged in your ministry God always finds a way to encourage you to keep going to keep working. That’s the good side of ministry but there are those times when you can become overwhelmed. When the pressures of ministry coupled with the pressures of life become too much; your ministry becomes inconvenient; serving God becomes inconvenient.
Lord I want to serve You but, sometimes serving You is inconvenient. As a person in ministry I admit that sometimes I feel that way. Especially when that ministry includes counseling others, or pastoral duties. There are the times that the phone rings when you just get to sleep, or just sit down to dinner, want to watch a television (especially sports), when you’re working on a bible study lesson or studying for a sermon. What about those times that you are trying to leave church and get something to eat, or go to the beach, or take a nap after service and somebody wants to talk to you. Are those really inconveniences or is is that we are reluctant to give up what it is we want to do in order to do what God has called us to do?
To Whom Much Is Given Much Is Required
Luke 12:48 (NKJV) But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.
Jesus said this at the end of his parable where he was teaching that skepticism about the His return produces misuse of authority and laxity of conduct. Those with authority would be punished in proportion to the level of authority. The more authority the greater the punishment.
The idea of “to whom much is given, much will be required” is that we are held responsible for what we have. If we are blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, it is expected that we use these well to glorify God and benefit others.
Most of us are quick to declare our love for God, but at times we are reluctant because we think it’s inconvenient.
Why Is It Inconvenient?
Sometimes our schedules are so full that there's no space to follow the Lord when we hear Him calling us to minister in a certain area. We are always busy we have a schedule to keep and todo list to deal with. Places to go and people to see. We all need borders in our lives if we want to abide in God's will. Are you too busy for God?
Ephesians 5:15-16 (NKJV)15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Sacrificial service is never convenient. It may require that we change our plans, give up our comforts, or even make financial sacrifices.
Matthew 16:24-25 (NKJV)24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
“Take up your cross and follow Me” means being willing to die in order to follow Jesus. It’s called “dying to self.” It’s a call to absolute surrender
We Don’t Care Enough
This one is really hard to admit. If we think it’s inconvenient at times because we’re too busy or selfish it may reveal a lack of devotion to the Lord and the ministry He’s called you to.
Matthew 22:36-39 (NKJV)36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
When we love Christ with all our heart we will joyfully serve Him by ministering to those in our families, workplaces, communities, and churches.
To Whom Much Is Given Much Is Required
God has given us so much and He wants us to use what He has given to further His Kingdom and proclaim His glory.
Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
The next time ministry becomes inconvenient remember this;
Hebrews 6:10-12 (NKJV)10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Any service we offer in Jesus' name will not be in vain. You'll experience the joy of giving and the assurance that the Lord won't forget your sacrifice.
A lot of people will be happy to see 2016 go. It was a tough year for a lot of people. Thousands of people were killed in more than 100 terrorist attacks throughout the world with the worst being in, Brussels, Nice, Orlando, Berlin, Baghdad, Kabul, Quetta Pakistan, Lahore Pakistan, and on May 23rd eight bombs in 2 Syrian cities. In the United States there were a number of police shootings of unarmed African American males that many believe were, if not racially motivated, the result of systemic racism in law enforcement. There was a very contentious presidential election campaign in the United States in 2016 that left the nation divided along racial, gender, economic, urban and rural lines.
Here is the Associated Press top 10 news stories of 2016. All of them was bad news:
1. US ELECTION: This year's top story traces back to June 2015, when Donald Trump descended an escalator in Trump Tower, his bastion in New York City, to announce he would run for president. Widely viewed as a long shot, with an unconventional campaign featuring raucous rallies and pugnacious tweets, he outlasted 16 Republican rivals. Among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton beat back an unexpectedly strong challenge from Bernie Sanders, and won the popular vote over Trump. But he won key Rust Belt states to get the most electoral votes, and will enter the White House with Republicans maintaining control of both houses of Congress.
2. BREXIT: Confounding pollsters and oddsmakers, Britons voted in June to leave the European Union, triggering financial and political upheaval. David Cameron resigned as prime minister soon after the vote, leaving the task of negotiating an exit to a reshaped Conservative government led by Theresa May. Under a tentative timetable, final details of the withdrawal might not be known until the spring of 2019.
3. BLACK MEN KILLED BY POLICE: One day apart, police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, fatally shot Alton Sterling after pinning him to the ground, and a white police officer shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis. Coming after several similar cases in recent years, the killings rekindled debate over policing practices and the Black Lives Matter movement.
4. PULSE NIGHTCLUB MASSACRE: The worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history unfolded on Latin Night at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. The gunman, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people over the course of three hours before dying in a shootout with SWAT team members. During the standoff, he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
5. WORLDWIDE TERROR ATTACKS: Across the globe, extremist attacks flared at a relentless pace throughout the year. Among the many high-profile attacks were those that targeted airports in Brussels and Istanbul, a park teeming with families and children in Pakistan, and the seafront boulevard in Nice, France, where 86 people were killed when a truck plowed through a Bastille Day celebration. In Iraq alone, many hundreds of civilians were killed in repeated bombings.
6. ATTACKS ON POLICE: Ambushes and targeted attacks on police officers in the U.S. claimed at least 20 lives. The victims included five officers in Dallas working to keep the peace at a protest over the fatal police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana. Ten days after that attack, a man killed three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In Iowa, two policemen were fatally shot in separate ambush-style attacks while sitting in their patrol cars.
7. DEMOCRATIC PARTY EMAIL LEAKS: Hacked emails, disclosed by WikiLeaks, revealed at-times embarrassing details from Democratic Party operatives in run-up to Election Day, leading to the resignation of Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other DNC officials. The CIA later concluded that Russia was behind the DNC hacking in a bid to boost Donald Trump's chances of beating Hillary Clinton.
8. SYRIA: Repeated cease-fire negotiations failed to halt relentless warfare among multiple factions. With Russia's help, the government forces of President Bashar Assad finally seized rebel-held portions of the city of Aleppo, at a huge cost in terms of deaths and destruction.
9. SUPREME COURT: After Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill the vacancy. However, majority Republicans in the Senate refused to consider the nomination, opting to leave the seat vacant so it could be filled by the winner of the presidential election. Donald Trump has promised to appoint a conservative in the mold of Scalia.
10. HILLARY CLINTON'S EMAILS: Amid the presidential campaign, the FBI conducted an investigation into Clinton's use of a private computer server to handle emails she sent and received as secretary of state. FBI Director James Comey criticized Clinton for carelessness but said the bureau would not recommend criminal charges.
On top of all this bad news it seems that there were an extraordinary number of deaths of beloved entertainers and other celebrities. From David Bowie who died on January 6th, to Debbie Reynolds on December 28th, in 2016 there were the deaths of Prince, Muhammad Ali, Fidel Castro, Gene Wilder, Garry Marshall, Florence Henderson, Nancy Reagan, Alan Thicke, Carrie Fisher, Garry Shandling, John Glenn, Arnold Palmer, Merle Haggard, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Patty Duke, Antonin Scalia, and on and on. So many deaths of that I saw comments like “2016 stop killing my favorite people”, 2016 stop killing our heroes, or “STOP IT 2016”, on my Twitter and Facebook feeds.
2016 all bad though. Here are some of the good things that happened in 2016. This from the Washington Post .
While the year was dominated by political toxicity, major celebrity deaths, social unrest and the specter of terror, a number of positive moments and stories emerged.
1. There was good news in the U.S. economy. Markets hit record highs, wages rose and unemployment dropped to its lowest rate in nine years.
2. On the press freedom front, journalists Jason Rezaian, Khadija Ismayilova and Can Dundar were released from prisons in, respectively, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey (though they shouldn’t have been there in the first place).
3. The United States saw milestones for diversity in government. A sampling: Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina elected to the Senate; Ilhan Omar, a former refugee, will be the first Somali American lawmaker; and although she went on to lose the general election to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton was the first female U.S. presidential nominee of a major party.
4. In sports, Bethesda’s Katie Ledecky dominated in the Rio Olympics; the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908; and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers gave Cleveland its first pro sports title in 52 years.
5. It was announced that Harriet Tubman will appear on the front of the $20 bill, relegating Andrew Jackson to the back.
6. Colombia’s congress approved a peace deal with the FARC, the rebel group the government has been fighting since 1964.
7. The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened on the Mall.
8. President Obama visited Hiroshima, the Japanese city where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb, and called for the end of nuclear weapons. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will join Obama this month at Pearl Harbor to “pay tribute” to those who died in the war.
9. Former dictator Hissene Habre of Chad was convicted of crimes against humanity; former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
10. Good news for Earth: U.S. carbon dioxide emissions dropped to their lowest level since 1991, renewables’ energy capacity overtook coal’s and the Paris climate agreement went into effect.
11. Good news beyond Earth: Astronomers found new evidence of a ninth planet, and the Juno spacecraft entered Jupiter’s orbit.
12. Obama banned solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons.
13. The Pentagon lifted its ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.
14. The National Park Service celebrated its centennial this year; Obama expanded a national marine monument in Hawaii to create the largest ecologically protected area in the world and designated seven other national monuments, including the Stonewall Inn in New York, the first national monument to the gay rights movement. Obama has now surpassed every other president in the amount of land and water he has protected (more than 548 million acres total — more than twice as much as Theodore Roosevelt).
15. Leaders of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches met with each other for the first time since 1054.
16. Giant pandas were removed from the endangered species list, and the tiger population rose for the first time in a century.
You may not agree with all of these and you probably have some others. The point is that although 2016 may not have been the best year it was certainly not the worst of all years.Good did happen in 2016.
One story they didn’t include that I think was one of 2016's was;
100 Percent Of Patagonia’s Black Friday Sales Will Go Toward Saving The Environment. Patagoina, the high-end outdoor apparel and gear retailer Patagonia announced it will donate 100 percent of its Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental groups that protect local communities’ air, water and soil. The groups that will receive the money are small and typically underfunded, according the company’s press release.Patagonia is expected to make over $2 million on Black Friday, CNN Money reported.
My Good News
The 2016 good news for me is that millions of people were saved in 2016, millions of people were healed of sickness and disease in 2016, I got to spend a lot of time with one of my daughters and granddaugthers in 2016 who have blessed me more than I can describe; God has blessed me to see my 72nd year; I’ve written I don’t know how many blog posts, and preached several sermons; my Internet ministry is growing; I was able to visit with my 94 year old mother, who is still in good health; I entered a relationship with a wonderful woman; I continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge, I could go on and on and on. So while 2016 wasn’t perfect, some bad stuff happened to me in 2016 too it wasn’t all peaches and cream, it was a good year despite it all.
Now on to 2017
Two years ago when trying to decide what to write for the New Year I ran across a quote from the book Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” That’s what happens at 12:00 midnight January 1, 2017. There are no mistakes at exactly 12:00 midnight. It’s a new beginning. A beginning with excitement and anticipation so start it with the Word of God. I started with 15 for 2015, In continued with 16 for 2016. Here are my 17 inspirational scriptures for 2017. They include the same 15 that I had for 2015, the same 16 that I had for 2016 plus one more for 2017. God’s Word never changes and it is the same today as is was in 2015 and 2016.
17 for 2017
Hope for the Future
Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB) For I know the plans I have for you”--⌊this is⌋ the LORD’s declaration—“plans for ⌊your⌋ welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB) Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Romans 8:28-30 (NLT)28 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.29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
A New Creation
2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, ⌊he is⌋ a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.
Isaiah 43:19 (HCSB) Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
Psalm 98:1 (HCSB) Sing a new song to the LORD, for He has performed wonders; His right hand and holy arm have won Him victory.
A New Heart
Ezekiel 36:26 (HCSB) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Forgetting the Past
Philippians 3:13 (HCSB) Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,
Hebrews 12:1-2 (HCSB) 1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
Learning from Past Mistakes
Hebrews 12:10-11 (HCSB) 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Proverbs 24:16 (HCSB) Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.
Wait on the Lord
Psalm 37:7 (HCSB) Be silent before the LORD and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans.
Isaiah 40:31 (HCSB) but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.
God's Timing is Perfect
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (HCSB) He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end.
Habakkuk 2:3 (HCSB) For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late.
Each New Day is Special
Lamentations 3:22-24 (HCSB ) 22 Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! 24 I say: The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.
2 Corinthians 4:16 (NLT)16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.
Let's ring out the Old and Ring in the New meditating on the Word of God which is light and life.
Psalm 119:105 (HCSB) Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
Proverbs 4:20-22 (HCSB) 20 My son, pay attention to my words; listen closely to my sayings. 21 Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them, and health to one’s whole body.
Yes, on the whole, 2016 was a good year for me, despite all that went on in the world, but I look forward to and expect even greater things in 2017. Greater things for the United States, greater things for my friends and family. Greater things for the Body of Christ. Greater things for my church, The Church of Divine Guidance in Los Angeles. Greater things for the Faith The Evidence Ministry. I look for the blessings of God that take us, as my Pastor says, “from glory, to glory, to glory”.
If Jesus doesn’t return, which will make it the best of all possible years, I pray that 2017 it will be your best year yet.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Don't get discouraged in your ministry. You may never know the impact that it has on others....you may never know but God knows.
As those of you who read my blogs know I write three of them; this one, Faith The Evidence - Bible Studies, What The Bible Teaches Us About Faith, and I maintain this website. It's a lot of work and I sometimes wonder if anybody other than me is getting blessed. I've even thought at times of not spending as much time writing, and every now and then I've thought about stopping altogether. Then God, as He often does let's me know that, even if I never see it, what I do for Him is never in vain.
Today I got a comment on one of my recent blog posts, ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE WORD OF GOD WHEN YOU THINK HE'S ABANDONED YOU. The commrnt reminded me why I do what I do. When I read it I was reminded of something my pastor says every Sunday and what the writer of Hebrews said;
Hebrews 6:10 (NKJV) For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
I want to share that comment with you because it blessed and encouraged me, and I believe it will bless and encourage you, especially if you've every become discouraged in your ministry because it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. You're not seeing people being saved or delivered and you start to question yourself and even God. Then al, of a sudden God sends you a reminder
Here's the comment:
"Your post is an awesome sign of the presence of God always with us. A week ago Friday I was let go from my job. I have continued to trust Gods plans, pray, start and continue my day with Him and listening to His instructions. Every day I read Jeremiah 29. The days after I got let go, numerous people referenced or instructed me to read this. Me reading this post today is no coincidence. I know he has a plan for me. Thank you for your post."
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
When you start to get discouraged in your ministry first remember that it's not about you anyway it's all about God. Secondly remember that you may never know who or how you impact people when you are doing what God called and equipped you do. Thirdly He'll always let you know that He won't forget. Keep working don't stop, don't ever stop. Like Paul;
Phillippians 2:16 (NLT) Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.