Archive for the ‘Trials’ Category

This painting, created by my friend Sharon Taylor, is an enlightening representation of the spiritual warfare that exists all around us. This is a graphic reminder that Satan is a very real enemy who purposefully seeks to destroy those committed to Christ. 1 Peter 5:8 says, Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Christians suffer daily for the sake of following Christ. Some are tortured physically, imprisoned, and even killed; others are tortured mentally and emotionally by addictions, broken homes, kidnappings. The methods of his attacks are never-ending. Satan and his army stand ready to attack, and we must always be on guard.

In the midst of the darkness, you can see innumerable rays of light. Each light represents those who follow Christ, those who draw near to God, and those who faithfully share the light of His love for all to see. John 1:5 says, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Satan will try his best to shake our faith and to dim the light of each Christian, but we have complete assurance that we serve a conquering King, and we are not alone in this battle!

Now, notice the bright beams of light penetrating the darkness and the mass of light above Satan and his army. Isaiah 41:10 says, Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Praise God there is light in the darkness! 1 Peter 5:10 says, The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. These times of suffering will not last forever.

The battle is real. God is our strongest defense against the devil’s attacks. We must always be alert and protect our “light” with the whole armor of God so that others may know God. Ephesians 6:10-18 says, Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

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In just a few weeks, COVID-19 has transformed from a subject of very little concern to many people in my area to something that is totally disrupting the lives of most if not all.

There are so many things you may be dealing with personally that may be causing anxiety, but know that God can give you peace beyond all understanding. No matter how difficult or impossible your situation may seem right now, trust God. You’ll find it’s much easier to trust Him through any struggle and even the day to day mess when you’re spending time with Him in prayer and reading His word each day. If you aren’t already doing that, don’t hesitate; start now.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. Psalm 73:26

But you are a shield around me, O Lord, my glory , and the one who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

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This is Temporary

There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for awhile. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to a God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Things may be difficult as you’re going through trials, but this scripture promises that trials are temporary. God doesn’t send trials to break you, but instead He allows them in order to make your faith in Him stronger.

When you feel frustrated by the trials in your life, remember that there will be wonderful joy again, so lean on Him and wait expectantly for that joy. Believe that this is temporary and your faith is more precious than gold.

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Does it ever seem that the circumstances you face are so complicated that there is no way out? No matter which way you turn, you only see trouble.  In those moments, we have a tendency to focus on the problem rather than God and His power to conquer any obstacle.  When problems arise, we begin to question.  What are we going to do?  How are we going to overcome this?  In Exodus 14 while escaping the oppression of the Egyptians, the Israelites began to question why they were brought to the desert, what Moses had done by leading them out of Egypt, and why they even agreed to follow him.

Exodus 14:13-14 says, Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.   They were focused on the obstacles, and their thoughts and actions were controlled by fear.  How often do we find ourselves in that same situation?  Instead of focusing on the problem, who to blame, and how we can fix it, we must turn our focus to God.

As stated above in Exodus 14, sometimes we must calm our fears, be still, pray, and trust God to make a way in His perfect time.  Other times though He may tell us to “get moving”.  Exodus 14:15 says, then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.  In other words, “I’m opening the door, now you need to follow my instructions and just move on through it”.

Psalm 77:16 says, When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled!  The sea trembled at the power of God; there is no obstacle which is greater than His power!  Psalm 77:19 goes on to say, “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters – a pathway no one knew was there!”  God was able to part the Red Sea leaving a dry path for the Israelites to cross escaping from the Egyptians, and He still has the power today to open doors for us that we may not even know are an option.

I’m sure it was terrifying for the Israelites to step out onto that ocean floor with an enormous wall of water on either side!  The door that God opens for us may be scary, but if we’ll just trust Him and move on through it, we will see the power of His deliverance.

When it seems as though the enemy is winning, God is still in control and knows exactly what to do. So instead of focusing on the problem and how we can fix it, we must not let fear control our actions.  We must choose to trust God and wait patiently for Him to make a way.  We must obey and move on through when He says it’s time.  Even when our problem seems as big as the Red Sea with no apparent solution, God has the power to make a way!

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It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We’ve probably all said it or at least thought it when an unexpected crisis left us gasping for breath. Accidents happen. Bad decisions are made. Illness suddenly strikes. Death occurs. These events are not a part of our plan and will shake us to our core.

Before David was crowned king, he experienced one of these life shattering moments. In 1 Samuel 30, he and his men returned home to find their city in ruins and their families had been taken captive. Verse 4 says, So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.

The remainder of chapter 30 tells how David faced an unexpected crisis and provides some valuable lessons for our own challenges, even the small stuff.

1. Find strengthIt’s okay to cry, but find strength from the Lord as David did. (v. 6)

2. Pray for God’s direction – David inquired of the Lord (v. 8). Don’t react out of anger but instead seek God first.

3. Fight the enemy if God leads – Don’t allow Satan to knock you down and win. Get back up and fight! (v. 8, 17)

4. Some people may not stick with you or may turn against you – David’s men turned against him (v.6) and some were too exhausted to go to battle with David (v. 9-10). Unfortunately, your problems may be too intense for some friends to handle. Be thankful for those who offer support.

5. Minister to others despite your own crisis – David took time to stop and care for a man in need (v. 11). Ministering to others’ needs can relieve some of the stress of your own situation.

6. Share God’s blessings and grace with others – David shared the plunder with all (v. 26) Don’t keep to yourself God’s blessings through this crisis. You never know how it may help someone else.

When life isn’t going the way you thought it would, are you going to allow the unexpected crisis to break you, or will you jump up ready for battle? Satan will be waiting to crush your spirit, but instead go to God and ask Him how you should proceed. There is no crisis greater than God’s power and direction.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. There are many seasons in life, and some will be difficult. But praise God there will also be many times to laugh and dance!

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God’s Mighty Works

When life is tough and nothing seems to be going right, remember and focus on the mighty things that God has done in the past. He has led you through troubled waters before and made a way where no way seemed possible. He is still a God of miracles and mercy!

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Eagle’s Wings

Do you ever feel like life has pushed you off the edge of a cliff, and you are flailing about in slow motion just waiting to crash into the hard ground? The good news is that God is right there ready to catch you.

As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them up on its wings, so the Lord alone led him. – Deuteronomy 32:11-12. When the baby eagle has grown enough to learn to fly, the mother eagle pushes him from the nest and lovingly hovers near. When necessary, she spreads her wings, and catches that little one in the safety of her protective wings.

Like a baby eagle, sometimes we must be pushed out of the nest in order to grow and learn to fly on our own. At times, God allows situations to come into our lives in order to grow our faith, to teach us to trust Him, and to remind us of His loving presence.

When it feels as if your life is out of control and you’ve been pushed from the nest, remember that God is hovering, ready to swoop in, and carry you on His wings. He will not let you fall. You just have to focus on Him, and He will lead you just as the mother eagle leads her young.

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The Cross Room

The young man was at the end of his rope. Seeing no way out, he dropped to his knees in prayer. “Lord, I can’t go on,” he said. “I have too heavy a cross to bear.” 

The Lord replied, “My son, if you can’t bear its weight, just place your cross inside this room, then open that other door and pick out any cross that you wish.” 

The young man was filled with relief. “Thank you, Lord,” he sighed, and did what he was told.  Upon entering the other door, he saw many crosses, some so large that the tops were not even visible. Then he spotted a tiny cross leaning against the far wall. “I would like this one, Lord,” he whispered. 

And the Lord replied, “My son, that’s the cross you just brought in.”

Author unknown

As we trudge along dragging our own personal cross, the weight of it sometimes seems unbearable. Like the man in this story, we may wish to trade for another that is easier to manage, but we usually don’t have to look very far to see someone carrying a much greater burden. 

After my husband’s accident, there was a time when he was critical, and the team of doctors were watching for complications which could require immediate brain surgery.  During this time, we waited, prayed, and wondered if those complications would occur and how damaging they might be. But even as we waited, I saw other patients and families in the ICU who were suffering so much more. I also knew of families in our hometown who were suffering greatly as well. Our cross seemed heavy, but there were many crosses in that hospital that seemed much larger. During that time and still today as he recovers, God provided all the strength and grace that we needed to get through each day. 

Recently my new doctor decided to do some bloodwork to determine exactly what kind of arthritis I have been dealing with for several years. I didn’t think much of it at the time. A few weeks later, my cross suddenly seemed even larger and heavier after a much unexpected diagnosis of Lupus. The pain began years ago but had gradually progressed.  There had seemed to be a good explanation for every symptom that had appeared over the last decade, so I never thought much of the possibility that something more could be the cause.  Although nothing had changed physically, the emotional weight was immense at first. But God quickly reminded me again that there are many with greater burdens than mine. I know if I walked into The Cross Room I would see that my cross is tiny compared to so many others.  

The Cross that we bear may be heavy at times, but it’s ours. I would not trade my or my family’s cross for any other because I know that God has prepared us specifically for these crosses. We aren’t equipped to carry the weight of your cross, just as you haven’t been equipped to carry the weight of ours. Whatever you are going through, whatever struggle you face each day, whether its physical or emotional, God has given you everything you need to carry that cross.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness -2 Corinthians 12:9.  Through our difficulties, God’s power can shine!  

When you think you have no more strength to carry it, call to Him. He will provide a way whether it be a rest or simply a realization that your cross isn’t nearly as large as you thought.  Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you – Psalm 55

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This is something that has been on my mind lately, so I thought I would share it again.

Yesterday I hesitantly went with my daughter for her first visit to the chiropractor due to back pain.  I sat in the corner of the room preferring to be in the waiting room or shopping, but because she wanted me there, I went.  I recoiled as I watched him apply pressure, twist, and jerk her body.  Joints popped and her body twisted abnormally as the chiropractor made adjustments.  He assured me it looked much worse than it felt, but I don’t think he will ever be seeing me again!  My daughter however was astonished at the difference it made in the way she felt.  The adjustment appeared to be uncomfortable to say the least, but the results were worth it to her.

Often we must go through uncomfortable adjustments in life to get everything lined up just as God desires it to be. Those adjustments often come in the form of change.    I don’t like change, so when it is forced upon me, my life feels twisted and uncomfortable.  Changes in job duties, expectations, schedules, health issues, finances, leadership, and on and on but there is one thing we can count on that never changes.  In Malachi 3:6 God says, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (KJV)  Regardless of the changes making our lives uncomfortable, we can be comforted in know that God is the one thing that will never change.

Change is inevitable, so it is beneficial for us to have a godly approach.  Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)   When change is causing knots of frustration, we may need a spiritual adjustment.  We must simply go to him and receive the rest that only He can provide.

When life adjustments happen we can trust that God is the same today as He was yesterday, and He will remain the same tomorrow and forever.  Pressures of life may cause us to recoil and wonder how we will survive. It may be tempting to run away from the change, but doing so does not allow God to get things in proper alignment.  Instead we should go to Him for rest and trust Him as he gives us a spiritual adjustment.  The blessings will be worth it all!

Inspirational Bible Verses

Inspirational Bible Verses (Photo credit: Isolino)

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As each of four women stepped into my car, I found myself amazed by their compassion. Each woman was facing significant trials in her own life, yet making the time to pray with a friend facing the nightmare of possibly losing her baby.  All of these women from different backgrounds, experiencing a variety of trials, made the time to support another friend in need.

The first was dealing with painful health issues that just a few days before led to hospitalization.  The second young lady was struggling to be strong as a loved one battles cancer.  The third was stressed by the uncertainty of her job as fellow employees were being laid off due to financial insecurities of the business.  The last was heartbroken after the grandmother who raised her was admitted to a nursing home.

As we drove to a nearby town, I shared my surprise that they were able to make the time for this last-minute trip considering each of their circumstances.  They quickly reminded me of the trials in my own life at the moment.   We discussed each of our situations, shared concerns and fears, and encouraged one another.  We discovered that although our trials were very different, there was one key element in each.  The trials had caused each us to rely more on God.  Each situation is beyond our control, and all we can do is trust God’s will for our lives.  We were even able to laugh at how the same scripture keeps popping up in everything we read.  Isn’t it amazing that God used one verse to encourage a car full of crying, giggling women?  The scripture we came across for weeks prior to and following this night was Proverbs 3:5 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

This trip was not about the women in my car, yet God used it to provide encouragement for each one.  Finally we reached our destination and as a group we prayed for our friend and her unborn baby with our hands on his mother’s stomach.  Specifically we prayed that the heart beat would be so strong that the doctor would be amazed by God’s power.  After a week of praying for this unborn child, we received the following message:

Praise The Lord!!! We got our MIRACLE. The baby’s heart rate has gone up to 174! The doctor has no explanation for it, but I do. It’s an answer to many many prayers!!!

I would like to tell you that the situation of every woman in my car that night has been resolved, but I can’t.   What I can say is that God is carrying each of us and our trials have helped us to rely on His strength rather than our own.  Isaiah 41:10 reminds us “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Whatever you are going through, you can trust that God loves you and is right there with you through the darkest times. Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” 

Even though things may not happen as quickly or exactly the way you desire, trust that God has everything under control and has a plan specifically for you.  Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Trust God, call out to Him, seek His will for your life, ask friends to pray, and finally put your hope in Him.

The Solid Rock by Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

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