Trusting in God Develops Courage

Today’s Bible study is from Psalm 31:24, “Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord.” Courage isn’t something that comes easily. We get attacked from every side and amid those attacks, we find that in our own strength we are defeated and haven’t much courage to face the battle. Today as I am doing my Bible Journaling, I am really struggling to concentrate. I have had a growing sinus headache, and even though I have taken medication and asked the Lord to ease the pain, it is still with me. I seriously believe that this is one of the tools Satan uses to distract us from doing the things God is calling us to do.

David had similar problems. When we read the 31st chapter of Psalm, David is praying to God, pouring out his heart of all the things, people, and situations that are coming against him. Enemies were seeking to kill him, others were being judgmental about his sin and attacking him with slurs and gossip, he is grieving deeply in his heart over the results of his sin, to the point where he physically has “wasted away” (verse 10), and he is discouraged. However, sprinkled throughout the chapter David reminds himself that God is the one who is his source of strength, his deliverer, his refuge, and in the end, David reminds us that we are to “be strong and let your heart take courage.” We can do this when we hope or trust in God. It is God who gives us the strength and the courage to face the things that come against us.

Satan knows our weak points and he knows just what buttons to push to cause us to turn away from trusting God. We can find hope in our lives in Jesus. David, in the middle of his sorrow and pain, declared in verse 14, “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, “You are my God.”’ We need to remind ourselves that we are not forgotten, God knows where we are, He knows the battle we face, and He is right beside us. Therefore, we can trust Him. We can put our full faith and belief in Him to deliver us and to give us the courage to face those hardships.

For me, the struggles at this stage in my life have been physical pain and trying to win the battle over my anger issues. Satan is constantly at me, trying to get me to become distracted and turn away from God. My husband says the attacks are coming because I have determined in my heart to Bible Journaling and blogging as a means of ministry to others. This may be true. But the funny thing is, I have been in ministry work almost my entire adult life and the attacks have never been this constant or severe. My pastor has said that when the enemy attacks, it means that something is about to happen to where we are heading for another level in our walk with the Lord, and Satan is pulling out all the stops to prevent us from succeeding and becoming an effective Christian in our witness to others. He’s running scared and he’s throwing everything he can think of in our pathway to derail us.

Without God to give us the courage and strength to persevere in those times of hardship, we would fail miserably, and our witness would be ineffective. We can find victory when we place our trust in Him. He hears our heart’s cry and He is ready to give us what it is we need. Then we can boldly say, as David did, “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, “You are my God.”’

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Courage

Sometimes life throws some heavy obstacles in our pathway and we can feel defeated, rejected, disillusioned, frightened, and alone. We can’t find strength to persevere, nor can we find the courage it takes to go through those obstacles. I’ve been there. I’ve been so afraid to even fight through the battles, that I forget that I have a Source of courage and strength. This month’s devotional series is on courage. Matthew 10:22 says, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”

Endurance in a battle takes courage. That courage comes from one Source, God. David knew from where his courage came. I Samuel 17:45 says, “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.”

When we are faced with things that come across our path, be it normal events that happen to everyone or entrapments set up by Satan to trip us up, we can rest in the knowledge that God is our source of courage, that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews13:5), and that He gives us the strength and courage to endure to the end when we can say with confidence that we weathered the storm and came out on the other side in victory.

Jesus knew His disciples would have a very difficult road to travel once He was gone. They would be persecuted, rebuked, and even killed for proclaiming the Good News of Jesus. The early church went through such horrific trials that we, in this day and age, can not even imagine. But Jesus encouraged them to endure to the end. He was their Source of strength and courage, even in the face of death. For the majority of us, we don’t have to be faced with persecution like that, but there are areas of this world where persecution of Christians is currently happening, and many have given their lives to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior. We’ve all heard stories of how bravely missionaries and fellow Believers faced persecution and death. They knew the Source of the courage they possessed and endured to the very end.

David exhibited that courage when he faced Goliath. David was just a teenager, but because of his faith in God, he boldly stepped forward to defeat the giant, Goliath. Lest we think that David was perfect, he had his moments of doubt and discouragement just like we all go through. Read the Psalms, you will see David struggle with every emotion and battle we experience, but inevitably he always ends with praise to God and the assurance that God is with him, and he knows where to find the strength and courage to continue to endure through the battles.

A dear friend of mine is battling a rare form of leukemia, and I am amazed at her strength! She always has an encouraging word even when she is not feeling well. She does her best to be in church, and she is such an encouragement for me. I struggle with back pain that is constant, it never leaves. On the days when I feel like I can’t even get the energy to get ready for church, I remember what she is going through, and I know that if she can endure her battle, I can endure mine. She knows from where the source of her strength and courage come. Her faith is solidly placed upon the Savior! She is my hero! If she can be in church when she isn’t feeling well, then I can also. She has taught me so much in how to endure to the end. She has taught me to remember that my strength and courage come from God, just by watching her as she fights and prays for healing.

David’s courage came from the God of the armies of Israel. He fought Goliath in God’s name, giving God the honor due Him, and God gave David the victory. We can claim victory also when we remember Whom it is that gives us courage and strength, and when we give Him all the glory and honor despite our circumstances.

God’s Daily Planner

 

I did my Bible Journaling yesterday on Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (KJV) The New American Standard Bible says, “’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” I like the NASB better because not only does it tell me that God thinks about me, but He has plans for me.

As I was working on my Bible page the idea of a daily planner came to mind. Then the thought hit me, God has me on His daily planner! I am so important to Him that He makes time for me, He schedules me into His day! He makes plans for me and my life, and they are good plans. His plans for me are to give me a future and hope.

As I thought about this, I felt gratitude. To think that He not only thinks about me, and His thoughts are of peace, and He has plans for me and they are for my good, and that He has my whole life laid out ahead of time, and those plans for my life are to bring me a future and a hope! This has become another life verse for me. When I couple Hebrews 4:16 with Jeremiah 29:11, it combines into a picture of a Heavenly Father who loves me and wants the best for me. An Abba Father whom I can come to in times of joy and in times of sorrow and deep despair. A Heavenly Daddy who makes plans in His day to meet with me and to share with me His plans for my life.

I am so grateful for His love and attention. A couple of days ago I journaled on I Peter 1:7, “so that the proof of your faith; being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The thought crossed my mind that not only is my faith in God precious, but He sees me as precious, in fact, more precious than gold! The Bible says that we are so important to Him that He holds us in the palm of His hand, (Isaiah 41:10) that’s protection and safety. It also says He loves us with an everlasting love, (Jeremiah 31:3), and He also has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5), that’s security. That is so amazing to me! As many times as I make a mess of things, He still loves me, and I am treasured by Him.

I’m not a daily planner kind of person. I tend to kind of fly by the seat of my pants, as it were. That can be a good thing, or it could be a bad thing. But I have never been a rigid, plan out every second of my day, kind of person. Things happen so quickly that can upset those plans and then the whole thing is shot. So, I kind of go with the flow. Now that I am retired, I’m more inclined not to set schedules. But God is a planner! Each one of us are in His daily planner, and He has plans set for each one of us. He may not reveal everything to us, and that is a good thing, but He reveals just enough for us to see the next step. I’ve often heard it said that if God revealed His whole plan to us, we wouldn’t want to follow Him through the hard things. But it is in those trials that we grow, and we excel to the next level of faith in Him, and when it is finished, we can say we were glad we went through that because we learned something. That doesn’t mean we would want to go through it again, but the struggle was of benefit to us.
I hope this has brought encouragement to someone who may be experiencing doubt, fear, or hopelessness. Know this, God loves you, He thinks about you constantly, and you are precious to Him. You are on His daily planner!

Whatever it Takes

It’s early morning and I’ve been up since 3:30.  I’ve been awakened by a song, Damaris Carbaugh sings called, “Whatever it Takes”.  Sometimes God wakes me in the middle of the night because He wants to talk to me.  This song is running in my mind over and over.  The words are so haunting, and it causes me to stop and re-evaluate my relationship with Jesus.

There’s a voice calling me from an old rugged tree
And it whispers, “Draw closer to Me;
Leave this world far behind, there are new heights to climb,
And a new place in Me you will find.”

CHORUS: For whatever it takes to draw closer to You, Lord,
That’s what I’ll be willing to do;
For whatever it takes to be more like You,
That’s what I’ll be willing to do.

Take the dearest things to me, if that’s how it must be
To draw me closer to You;
Let the disappointments come, lonely days without the sun,
If through sorrow more like You I’ll become.

Take my houses and lands, change my dreams and my plans,
For I’m placing my whole life in Your hands;
And if You call me today to a land far away,
Lord, I’ll go and Your will obey.

I can hear Damaris singing, with her deep, rich, alto voice resonating in my mind, and my heart is stirred within me.

I used to sing this song, without much thought to what it really was saying, not really applying it to my life.  But, one day my first husband asked me if I really meant what I was singing. Then he said, “You’d better be sure, because you don’t know what the future holds or if God will hold you to the words you sing.  Do you really mean, “Whatever it takes”? His statement and question caught me off guard.  I hadn’t really considered the fact that what I was singing, God may some day require me to prove my words.  Shortly after that my husband and I went through a very long trial. He had two strokes and became an invalid and I had to put him into a nursing home.  I had to carry a full-time job, try to manage all the things he had always taken care of, take care of him, and try to keep my head above water financially.  After a very long illness of seven years, God took him Home.  Then I spent six years alone before meeting my second husband.

I learned what those words meant! My second husband calls it my Job’s Trial. They were very dark days, but as I wandered through that haze of feeling nothing, I found out something. I found out that deep down inside, I really did mean those words.

It was so hard, but God showed me how I could trust Him with everything. I found that I had no one else to turn to, not in the way that I needed. Yes, God brought people into my pathway to help me, but they couldn’t be the Rock I needed to keep me standing.

So, as I listen to this song in my mind, I question, why is this song running through my mind now? It’s been a very long time since I’ve played the CD on which it is listed. God, what are You trying to tell me? I searched for Scriptures where Jesus is asking us to draw closer to Him and I found Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’” (NASB) Then the thought crossed my mind, “Am I about to go through a trial?” I don’t have to fear, because God has already proved Himself strong, and I know that whatever He asks me to do, I will be able to accomplish with Him by my side.

The verse talks about taking up our cross. Crosses are heavy. They are burdens we carry and can be almost anything that drags us down or brings us to a point of desperation. Do we try to carry them ourselves, or do we go to the One who says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 NASB) Rest, that’s what we find when we draw closer to Jesus. Peace floods our soul as we lean upon Him to carry those things that overwhelm us. The closer we get to Jesus, the easier it is to carry the burden, because we are not carrying it alone, He is taking the brunt of the weight. It is much like oxen who are tied together in a yoke, they each carry a portion of the weight as they pull the plow across the field. The burden is lighter.

So, as I think about the words to this song, I can say, “Yes, Lord, whatever it takes, because You have already proven to me that You are faithful, and I have nothing to fear.”

Do Not Fear

There are many things that make us fearful. We can be afraid of anything from snakes and creepy crawlies to fear of being in a crowd, or fear of heights. I was curious as to how many phobias existed, and according to what I found on the Internet, there are more than 500 phobias, things that are legitimate fears and those that are not so much. Our society today is troubled by fear. We see it everyday just in the news reports alone. People are afraid to walk out their front door for fear that they will be harmed by violence. Fear permeates almost every area of people lives and some are so fearful they can’t function in society.

The children of Israel had a fear. They had been across the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land and now they were standing on the banks of the Jordan getting ready to cross over into the Promised Land. The spies were sent to scout out the land. When they came back to give a report to the people, the spies said that the land was rich with good things, but said the land was filled with giants and walled cities. They were so afraid, that they gave a bad report, and made the people fearful as well. However, Joshua and Caleb, who were with the spies, gave a good report and implored with the people to not be afraid, but trust God. They told the people that God would go before them and give their enemies into their hand. But the people became rebellious to the point of wanting to stone Joshua and Caleb. Joshua and Caleb told the people, “Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:9) God was angry at the people’s rebellion and they paid for their disobedience. God made them wander in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation of fearful, disobedient, rebellious people had died.

Fear can rob us of so many things. It can rob us of peace and joy. It can make us see only what we are so fearful of and gets our eyes off God. We forget that God has promised that He will always be with us. There are at least 20 verses that remind us that God is with us. Even His name, Immanuel, is a reminder that He is with us because His name means, “God with us.” One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:5,” …. I will never desert you, nor will I forsake you.” (NASB) He promises to stay with us always!

When we get our eyes off God and look at the circumstances around us or the thing that has us entrapped in fear, all we see is that fear, and God becomes so small. There is a saying that my husband uses that says, “Big problem, little God, little problem, big God”. The idea is to remember that no problem is bigger than God. When we focus on that problem, we make God so small that we see no way that He could ever solve the problem. But when our eyes are on God, He becomes bigger than any problem, and our faith is increased as we watch Him work on our behalf and remove that fear, that thing, that problem that has us entrapped. We must remember that our God is not a little God, He is greater than anything you may face!

When we give our fears over to Him, He releases us from what the Devil has had us bound. He breaks those chains, shows Himself strong, and delivers us from the fear that surrounds us. Peace begins to flood our soul, real joy begins to bubble up, and we find we can rest in His arms and allow Him to bring relief. The prison we have been in is opened and we can then walk in freedom. The chains of fear are broken!

How Long O Lord?

 

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Psalm 13:1, How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” King David is questioning in the midst of a very difficult time in his life. He feels as if God has abandoned him. He doesn’t feel God’s presence, he prays and hears nothing. We’ve all been in that circumstance, haven’t we?

Life gets hard, God seems far away, our prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bounce back to the floor. “Where are You God?” I’ve certainly been there. I’ve recounted before the hardest time in my life when my first husband was so sick and eventually passed away. It took a long time for me to actually sense God’s presence and working in my life. But once I did, I was amazed at what He had been doing even though I, at the time, couldn’t see it.

David must have been very depressed, but despite his searching and feelings of being abandoned, if you read the rest of the chapter, David ends up rejoicing and worshipping God. The verses that really jumped out at me were verses 5 and 6. “But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Even though he felt like God left him to fend for himself, he realizes that he must trust God and His plan.

I love this about David! He spends the majority of the chapter pleading and complaining and then it’s almost like he comes to himself and remembers that he must trust God no matter what he is going through. How like David we are, aren’t we? We gripe and complain that God isn’t doing anything, or He has abandoned us, or isn’t working in our time frame and then it’s like we need a good smack in the head to remind us that no matter the situation, the first thing is TRUST GOD!

We forget to pray, or if we are praying, our prayers can be full of impatience or sound like a 2-year old temper tantrum…” I want it my way, and I want it now!” Never remembering that all things are done in HIS timing, not ours. He sees the big picture, He has a plan for our lives and sees the end from the beginning. All we can see is what is just in front of us.

Trusting is sometimes so hard to do, especially if we have been in the position of trusting someone only to have them leave us standing on our own without what was promised. We tend to not want to trust them again. We can only get left hanging for so long before we realize it isn’t worth the hurt and pain to trust.

However, God is always faithful! He never goes back on His word. If He has promised it, He will do it, and we can rely on His word. Sometimes it seems like He has moved far away, but in reality, we are the ones who have moved. He is always right at our side, holding us, walking with us, guiding us in the right way to go. It is up to us to stay with Him, to follow His leading. And, in those times when we feel He has left continue to trust whatever He has planned for us. Resting in His arms is the best place to be.
Sometimes God allows the hard times to build our faith, to make us stronger, or to prepare us for something that is coming down the road. We can look back and say, “If God could bring me through that, He can bring me through this.” Our strength comes from trusting in His Divine Plan for our lives and allowing Him to work through us and in us.

So, if you are going through a difficult time, remember it’s ok to ask, “How long, O Lord?” Just remember, He hasn’t abandoned you, He is right with you. Trust in His plan for your life and walk the pathway He has laid out for you with patience. He will never fail you!

Do it Again!

During this morning’s service we sang the song, “Do it Again!” and it touched the very soul of our congregation! If you’ve never heard this song, I have attached a You Tube link for the song. Play it repeatedly and let it sink deep into your heart! The sermon this morning was based on Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”

I’m on the Worship Team, and as I was playing my flute, my mind went back to all the times God came through when life seemed hopeless. Not once did He fail me! The congregation was looking back too, because somewhere in the congregation someone was wailing, not just crying, a heart-wrenching, loud, wail, as if in deep mourning, as they must have been recounting in their mind how faithful God had been in their life. The bridge to the song says, “I’ve seen you move, you move the mountains and I believe, I’ll see you do it again, you made a way, where there was no way and I believe, I’ll see you do it again.” The verses say, “You’ve never failed me yet.”

Although that is true, what we must realize is, God is incapable of failing us EVER! The song almost makes it sound like He hasn’t failed me in the past, but maybe He will in the future. However, Numbers 23:19 tells us that God is not man, He does not lie, and because He isn’t a human, He doesn’t change His mind. Then the verse questions, “Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He promised and not carried it through?” How could He? He’s God, and what He says He will do … He will do! He keeps His promises, unlike men.

Pastor asked for a show of hands, and asked, “How many have failed to do something you have promised to do?” and everyone raised their hand! Man can and does fail us, but God NEVER fails us. He is faithful to His word.

As we sang, the power of the song grabbed us! Later, someone said they wanted us to continue to sing it over and over. It reminded us of how much God cares for us. Pastor reminded us that no matter what Hell throws our way, we can stand on God’s promises. No matter the struggle, no matter the situation, no matter how people have treated us, no matter what …. HE NEVER FAILS! The song says, “Your promise still stands, Great is your faithfulness, faithfulness. I’m still in your hands, this is my confidence, you’ve never failed me yet.” We changed it to say, “You’ve never failed me!” There is no “yet” about it!

Because He has never failed us, we have confidence in what He promises. His word is true. I can do nothing but praise Him! My heart is so full just to think of how faithful He is to us and to His promises.

We can rely upon Him in every situation. Even when we think that He has abandoned us because we can’t feel His presence. He is right with us showing His strength, love, and power in our lives. In those times when we can’t see Him working, we must remember that every one of His promises is wrapped up in timing …. His timing! He cannot cancel His promise and man cannot cancel God’s promise! We must learn to wait on His timing. We can rejoice because He moves the mountains in our lives! Great is His faithfulness!