“As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day.” Genesis 50:20 (Amplified Bible)
For months I’ve lost track of life mourning the fact that some situations can’t be redeemed this side of heaven.
Some pain can never be reversed can it?
Like the death of loved ones … a way of life … relationships.
I’ve spent days in bed with my bible just trying to get a word from the Lord that would pull me out of this funk.
The enemy has used the pain and my introverted tendencies … to tempt me in walking away from the church and community in general.
The Devil loves using pain and loss to persuade us that faithfulness doesn’t matter in light of our circumstances.
But the story of Joseph has been a great encouragement these last few months.
This story has it all – betrayal, loss, oppression, dysfunction, jealously, rejection, false accusations and bondage … the list goes on and on.
And every time Joseph was oppressed … falsely accused … rejected … the scripture reminds us that God was with him.
I recently read a story about Andrew Murray who was a beloved pastor and writer in England in the late 1800’s. He suffered from debilitating back pain as a result of an injury. As he was eating breakfast one morning, his maid came to tell him that a woman was downstairs in great distress and was seeking advice or encouragement. Murray handed his maid the piece of paper he had been writing on and said, “Give her this advice that I’m writing down for myself. It may be helpful to her too.”
The paper read:
“In time of trouble, say, ‘First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.’ Next, ‘He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.’ Then say, ‘He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.’ And last, say, ‘In His good time He can bring me out again. How and when, He knows.’ Therefore, say ‘I am here (1) by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, (4) for His time.”
When I read this story, I realized that Mr. Murray’s advice is the exact model that God used in Joseph’s life … over and over.
Amazingly … Joseph remained faithful in all things … good or bad.
As a result, God used him to save many lives … including the lives of the brothers who hated him … yet Joseph held no bitterness in his heart for his oppressors.
Trusting God with our pain and learning to walk in the fullness of His sovereignty … just like Joseph did … can lead us to our purpose in life … if we remain faithful.
Faithfulness matters … especially when our world has turned upside down.
So, let this truth seep into every crevice of your heart …
You are here by God’s appointment … kept under the shelter of his loving wings … for His instruction to grow … within His timing.
Oh, sweet friend with the broken heart …
God has a purpose for your pain … so trust Him and remain faithful.
And that’s the Big Picture that Joseph so wisely understood.
This Christian walk is no bed of roses for sure. Some days it’s more like a terrifying roller coaster ride that takes you on breath taking dips and turns all while people stand on the sidelines laughing, scorning and pointing fingers at you.
Christianity certainly isn’t for the weak. And if you serve God in any capacity, you better have a thick skin because it’s harrowing out there in ‘Jesus loves you’ land.
I’ve been mistreated by more Christians than I’ve ever been by non-Christians.
We ‘Jesus loving folks’ are pretty hard on one another.
I stand up for Christ and get pummeled to the ground. I don’t stand and feel guilty for not doing so. The enemy calls me a coward while God reminds me that He gave me boldness.
Then if you are trying to live close to Christ and please Him in any sense, you got your own mess going on. The enemy tries his best to thwart, condemn and dismiss you in all regards.
And I can’t forget that the world puts Christian’s under a microscope. They wait for every fail and opportunity to call us out on scripture yet they interpret God’s word ignorantly because they don’t study context.
It’s much harder to be a Christ follower than to NOT be one at all.
I’ve been feeling this heavy weight of my faith lately.
It’s made me long for Jesus to come back every day.
The enemy keeps whispering ‘what’s the use in pressing on?’
But God is so good to sit with me and speak hope when the world is ugly.
Every stinking day, He pursues me in some way … and even more lately since my heart has been hurting.
He knows all about the heaviness of life, relationships, ministry, loss, unfair judgments, and disappointments.
He knows all about this flawed heart that struggles to process the arrows from the enemy. He knows when my reactions and thought patterns are sometimes less than pleasing as a result … and He celebrates when I get it right.
He also knows that no matter what is thrown at me … I know and acknowledge that He is all I got.
HE’S IT for me.
I’d be ruined without Him.
He’s the only reason I hang on.
So I know it may come as no surprise to you, but I’m not perfect.
Far from it.
But God recently told me that’s okay because He knows I’m trying.
I’m a pretty honest girl. There’s no pretense here. No fakeness.
You always know where you stand with me and that’s how me and God do life together.
So today as He has done so many times before … He reminded me;
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Philippians 1:6 The Message
Perhaps you are feeling a heaviness in this walk we are called to? Maybe the enemy is trying to make you feel less than … worthless?
Maybe he is using another’s actions to bring you down?
Take heart my friend … we will never be perfect and God knows this.
The important thing to remember is that we keep looking to Him and live out the righteousness of the blood that Jesus shed for us.
Perfection is over rated because it leaves out the love factor.
This love factor keeps me running back into the arms of a Savior who loves me, my flaws, my hang ups and all my hurts.
I’ll take Jesus over perfection any day. Press on my friends.
What circumstances tempt you to intervene or provide a solution?
What are you afraid will never change?
Fear is a life sucker for sure.
If I had a dime for every time that fear has caused me to step out of the will of GOD … oh my … I would probably be sitting on a tropical island this very moment drinking a little fruity drink with a tiny umbrella … non alcoholic of course.
Oh the Spiritual and emotional ground that fear can steal.
Fear of loss, fear of the future, fear of man and what he thinks.
King David grappled with fear many times. We see this in the scriptures as he ran for his life … crying out to GOD … begging rest from his enemies.
But David’s struggles and victories, give me hope.
The Psalms he penned all those hundreds of years ago reveal a man who was desperate for GOD to show up.
How many times have you been desperate for GOD to show up in your life?
Maybe you are desperate right now?
David landed smack dab in the middle of desperation. The man after GOD’S own heart was on the run from a jealous, King Saul who wanted to kill him.
In first Samuel 21 we learn what fear made David do. He lied to Ahimelech, the priest, claiming to be on a special assignment for King Saul. In addition, he faked insanity before King Achish of Gath.
David reacted to fear in extraordinary ways to say the least. And in truth … his actions were not customary to his true character.
Can you relate? What has fear caused you to do that went against the grain of your conscious? Your character? And even your faith?
Oh the story gets better. David flees Gath and continues to hide from Saul. In chapter 23 of 1 Samuel, David finds himself faced with fleeing again after he helped Keliah defeat the Philistines. Once again, GOD reveals to David that Saul is coming for him, so David flees.
David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but GOD did not deliver him into his hand. 1 Samuel 23:14
And Saul sought David every day … but GOD did not deliver him into his hand.
Oh my … sweet friend … just like David, we are fleeing and fighting for our lives in so many regards. And yes the struggle is real … it’s exhausting … it’s discouraging … but GOD is in control of our situation.
Let me prove that HE sees and cares about what you are going through.
“When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David, and he came down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard it, he pursued David in the wilderness of Maon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain; and David was hurrying to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men to seize them. But a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid on the land.” So Saul returned from pursuing David and went to meet the Philistines; therefore they called that place the Rock of Escape. 1 Samuel 23: 25-28
Oh my! Did you just see that? GOD sent the Philistines as a distraction to draw King Saul away!
How cool is that?
Oh friend … GOD sees your fear … your desperation … and HE is working on your behalf … even though you may not feel or perceive it. Time and time again we see GOD’S faithfulness played out on the pages of His historical word.
So what can we take away from this encouraging story about David?
1 – We must guard against fear causing us to sin … and turn away from GOD. We must not step out in flawed wisdom and make poor choices that separates us from GOD’S presence and will.
2- TRUST GOD in the overwhelming moments of fear. Get honest and cry out to Him just like David did in the Psalms. Pour out your heart and pen your own Psalms to the Creator.
3- Never underestimate the omniscient GOD who sees everything … especially what we can’t see. HE knows the exact moment of our deliverance and it will be right on time.
4- Believe that HE is always working on your behalf. He is your defender in all regards.
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” Isaiah 64:4
5- Openly rebuke the enemy who brings fear into your life. If you have been born again, you have authority over Satan in the name of JESUS. Don’t let him put fear on you.
6- Trusting GOD protects your peace of mind. You can’t fear and trust GOD at the same time. GOD doesn’t contradict himself in that way. Trusting GOD cancels out fear.
We have a COVENANT GOD who promises to never leave or forsake us. Man will let us down, but GOD will never forsake us.
Sweet friend, won’t you let a trustworthy GOD take care of your fear?
Is it humming right along with the upbeat Christian song playing on your radio? Or is it sitting in the middle of the wilderness….wallowing in despair?
Does it take a dive and slowly climbs back up to the peaks and then falls again, like a roller coaster ride?
Oh how important our faith meter is in this life.
Faith is the courage to our convictions.
Faith is the assurance to God’s promises.
Faith is the confidence of you future.
But if your faith is broken….your future is broken.
Today we finish up with our final sign in the blog series…”Four Signs You Are Living A Life That Matters.”
And so our fourth and final sign is….
You are walking by Faith.
Now you may say…Oh Mel…I am walking in faith. I believe Jesus came to die for me…and HE rose again.
Well great…you hit the salvation absolute on the head!
But is it possible that we can believe in GOD; yet we don’t believe that HE can do specific things in our lives?
A verse in Ephesians eludes to exactly what GOD can do for us….
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20
Simply put….GOD is telling us…..”Hey child….I can do more than you ask or think of. And not only a little….but exceeding abundantly…beyond your imagination!”
Why do we believe JESUS came back from the dead; yet, we struggle with believing HE can do big things for us?
Coming back from the dead would logically seem the harder thing to believe…wouldn’t you say?
That’s kind of contradictory isn’t it?
I must admit…I haven’t always hung my hat on total faith in GOD.
But HE started taking me to places that only HE could lead me through…and little by little I started learning that….HE’S the only one I can depend on.
And depend on HIM I do….for hope, for joy, for provision, for guidance…and healing. And through my roller coaster ride… something glorious started happening between me and GOD….…I started loving him….and loving him more…and then a little more….and more….and more….now HE is everything to me.
And the more HE shows me, the more I love HIM.
The more HE does for me, the more I depend on HIM.
The more I obey HIM, the more HE blesses me.
And through this gradual metamorphosis of my soul….I’ve learned to listen for those directives that lead to my calling. That calling that has word nerd written all over my DNA and satisfies my soul.
I see it clearly now.
So I step out and walk in faith toward the calling HE is working out as I love on people with words.
I don’t seek fame or fortune…I am compelled to share hope….I can’t not write about how good and faithful HE is.
So what about you?
What does walking in faith look like for you?
Is HE waiting for your total surrender to trust HIM in the murky places of life?
Is HE longing for you to love HIM more than anything in existence?
Is HE telling you to go to the mission field? Adopt a child? Or just wait on HIM to divinely cradle life in your womb?
Is HE leading you to directives that involve finishing your education to prepare for the next level?
Does He want you to change careers and work for purpose….. instead of money?
Sell everything you own and start a ministry?
Is HE calling you to forgive? Let go? Trust HIM to vindicate you?
It takes great faith to do any of the above….and it may require a great sacrifice; but in the end….when your life is said and done…..what will really matter?
Will it be your bank account, the car you drove or the house you lived in?
Will it matter that you traveled the world or saw the Eiffel Tower?
Will it matter you lived for selfish pleasure or for others?
What will be of value if you don’t live the life GOD is calling you in faith to step out to?
Will it matter in eternity?
Walking in faith is the key to living in the present…. living with purpose….. And living with a sense of urgency. You’ve got to have faith to do all three!
I want my life to count for something. I don’t want to face JESUS one day and realize HE had so much more for me…….if only I had stepped out in faith…..lived with urgency….lived in the present….and with purpose.
I challenge you to sit down and take an inventory of your life. How is your faith meter really?
Do you believe HE can do big things in your life? If yes…why are you not walking in faith toward those things?
Do you worry about what others will think of you? Well quit worrying because that thought is of the Devil.
What will your life reflect after you are long gone friend? Bold faith? Purpose? Wisdom? Faithfulness?
Don’t run out of time friend……
As long as you are breathing….you can start living a life that matters…today.
To wait for him to move when we need movement……to exact justice when we need justice….to reward faithfulness when we’ve been faithful.
It’s so easy to be tempted to go it alone….but what about going deeper?
Going deeper is tough when it feels like everything is against us.
Rejecting the enemy’s lies.
Going to the word of God daily…sometimes numerous times.
Baring our hearts in prayer….over and over.
Waiting patiently while trying to have a faith attitude.
Being faithful in the small things when we want to give up.
All the above is what I call going deeper.
To be honest, this faith walk is miserable some days. And we know he sees our misery, but we forget it’s for a purpose.
The famines, the pits, the heartaches, the persecutions, the loss…all the negative that comes our way is allowed for many purposes.
The Lord showed me years ago that suffering brings me to the edge of my existence….I’m not living for this world….but for eternity. He has also shown me that many times I have invited suffering because of sin.
Yet the one purpose that keeps me coming back and seeking him with all my heart ….he wants to have a relationship with me…..and because of that one purpose….he has shown me how I desperately need him.
You see he is a relational God.
He’s not like the Greek mythology gods portrayed in books that look down from the sky and get their kicks by moving mankind around like chess pieces.
We are not sport to him….we are his creation….created to be in a love relationship….one on one.
Recently I texted two of my hairy, man boys, inviting them to dinner. Now hairy, man boys will usually show up for a free meal; however, one replied yes while the other texted back a flimsy excuse.
When I miss my man boys, I want to see them; therefore, I am not above shaming if the need arises.
I replied back…. “The whole purpose in taking you to dinner is not necessarily to feed you….but to be with you. We love and miss you.”
How’s that for the perfect guilt trip? It didn’t work…but it gets better. As we neared their house, I gave the 2 minute warning to be ready because we were arriving soon. I added this little tidbit to the message. “Tell your brother that he will regret not going to dinner one day, when he can’t pick up the phone and talk to us ever again.”
I’m giggling as I type this….but it worked. I got to spend a little time with my stubborn, independent, hairy, man boys and it was sweet.
But this got me to thinking…..just like my “well intended momma manipulation”……God will do whatever it takes to draw us closer and closer to his side.
The illness that knocks us on our back and we can’t do anything but pray…..Oh the Father cherishes those tender prayers for help.
The persecution that makes us angry, takes our breath and drives us to cry out to him for justice. Oh the Father relishes in our acknowledgement that only he can exact justice.
The depression that locks us in darkness, straining to lift our heads up…..grasping for his unseen hand. Oh the Father delights that we know he is the only light to lead us out of the abyss.
The famine that is threatening our lives….robbing our peace…..dropping us to our knees in desperate prayer. Oh the Father takes joy in seeing us turn to him with our overwhelming circumstances.
When we quit trying to figure it out…..fix it, or stop reaching out to another flawed human for help ….and just turn to him….Can you imagine his joy?
Doesn’t it make us feel good as a parent, when only we can do for our children, like no other can?
So here we sit…. out of solutions. Tired of our own fixes. Our creativity, human thinking and resolutions are useless….and it’s only when we get to the end of ourselves that we can choose to go deeper with him.
Just like a momma missing her man boy babies, the Father will do whatever it takes to draw us closer and closer….even closer than we think we are. Why?
Because he loves us beyond comprehension and he wants to be in a crazy.…know me deeper….trust me greater….love relationship.
Whatever valley you find yourself in today…be it the depression, the famine, the sickness…the unknown circumstances…..can you go against your feelings…choose faith and believe that the Father is wanting more of you?
Tell me friend….are you willing to go deeper with the Father?
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” Jeremiah 31:3
Worship the Father with Bethel Music….calling us to go deeper.
Is there a recurring problem in your life continually discouraging you? Is it a relationship? A job? An inconsolable grief? Your marriage? A financial concern? A child? Is it sin you can’t seem to overcome? Are you drowning in the consequences of sin?
Discouragement is a key emotion Satan pulls from his bag of tricks. I know the feeling of discouragement oh so well. I grabbed the dangling, tainted carrot as recently as yesterday and found myself flat on my back.
Satan uses discouragement to isolate us from GOD.
A recurring discouragement for me of late is health issues. I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish this weekend and nothing has been done. I had errands I needed to accomplish but I didn’t feel like getting out….I even turned down a shopping trip with my sister….all because physically I didn’t have the stamina to go the distance. I thought I can at least work on a couple of writing projects….but my eyes were so blurry it hurt to even wear my glasses. Nothing has been completed as per my expectations; therefore, it didn’t take long for me to get down in the dumps over my health.
So life happens…..it doesn’t go as we plan……and then………disappointment settles in our heart.
This isn’t where we thought we would be at this point in our lives right?
Why did this have to happen and change the course of my life?
The “what ifs and if onlys” bring no comfort as many of us can’t go back and change things…..we are stuck with a new path to navigate.
This perpetual state of discouragement is exactly where Satan wants us to live.
When he keeps us discouraged….he keeps us defeated…..hopeless….almost lonely in our state of misery. We think no one could possibly understand how we feel….how we hurt….what we face everyday?
Some days it feels like we are just going through the motions….existing in a place where life may go on around us but we’re still stumbling around on the original path where it seems we lost it all.
Life is just plain hard isn’t it?
In all my physical misery yesterday…..I couldn’t focus. I didn’t feel like doing anything….so nothing got accomplished and I ended up with a bigger to do list…..I ended up discouraged….thinking my health is slipping away from me.
Stealing our focus from GOD is what the Devil works so hard to do in our lives.
He will throw everything in our path until he hits us with the one thing ….that’s going to change it all.
How do we look up…when everything changes? When we lose the job? When we lose our health? When we lose the loved one? When we lose it all?
How do we look up?
How do we keep going?
The bible tells us JESUS was a man of many sorrows….HE experienced our hurts….our fleshly feelings….our disappointments.
In my silly moment of doubt I asked…..how could HE have felt it all? How could HE understand the utter feeling of deep despair where we feel we are loosing something precious or we’ve already lost it?
I’m ashamed of myself for asking questions like these…but I am so human…and GOD knows this of course. So once again HE lavished HIS infinite mercy upon the silly child I am…. even with endless questions I have just like a three-year old…HE spoke very clear to me this morning.
When JESUS was hanging on the cross for our sin…HE cried out to GOD….HIS FATHER….
“My GOD, my GOD….why hast thou forsaken me?” Mark 15:34
I can’t imagine the feeling of being abandoned while dying….can you?
Yet JESUS experienced the ultimate loss.
JESUS was separated from HIS father’s presence…as HE died…hanging by flesh torn hands….in unimaginable agony.
GOD turned HIS back on HIS only son.
JESUS was alone….utterly and completely alone……with all the sins of the world….yours and mine….ravaging HIS body with every drop of redeeming blood….. hitting the ground.
GOD smacked me on the head this morning….you silly child…..JESUS knows exactly how you feel…when your hurting….when you have lost your health….a child…..a job….a home…..a marriage.
HE knows all too well the feeling of loss.
You see the Devil wants us to doubt JESUS….so he sends us the life hurts that diminish our faith and throws us into a spiral of defeat….disappointment…..discouragement.
Satan wants to separate us from JESUS….just like the sins JESUS bore for you and me separated HIM from HIS father.
I now have no doubt……our SAVIOUR truly felt the loss of everything….and I feel comfort from this truth.
It’s in the times we are hurting the most ….we have got to cry out to JESUS….help me JESUS….HELP ME! I don’t know what to pray or how to pray ……I don’t know what to say…..I don’t know how to go on….I don’t know how to live in this new place I find myself in? HELP ME JESUS, HELP ME PLEASE!!!
I have been so broken before, I didn’t have a clue what to pray or ask GOD to do in my life.
The bible says the HOLY SPIRIT will intercede on our behalf.
“In the same way, the SPIRIT helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the SPIRIT himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.” Romans 8:26
“Inexpressible groanings”……WOW!! Words that can’t express the pain of HIS heart….that’s how much HE cares.
Friend you may feel distant from GOD because HE allowed a great loss to come into your life. Don’t let Satan fool you…make you think GOD doesn’t care…or even worse….GOD is mean.
Cry out to GOD and ask HIM to help you put your eyes back on HIM when you stumble into discouragement.
Don’t let Satan keep you defeated…..don’t let him steal your purpose in life…..don’t let him make you bitter and feel distant from GOD.
Chose to endure your trials…..your grief…..your disappointments….chose to lean on JESUS.
We will never understand in this life why we are dealt the cards we have to play with…..but we have to keep our eyes on the game (GOD’S purpose for our life)….and the game maker (our GOD) ….and in the end….. we will win!
“Behold we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of job and have seen the outcome of the LORD’S dealings, that the LORD is full of compassion and is merciful.” James 5:11
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the LORD has promised to those who love HIM.” James 1:12
Hang on friend….hang on….
“Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
Cling to the hope of our future with JESUS…. and the promise that he is always with us….even in our sorrows!
Hang on friend…..JOY IS COMING so CHOOSE TO ENDURE!!!!