DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Eight, Day Seven

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Week Eight, Day Seven

 

“Sing to God! Sing praises to His name. Exalt Him who rides on the clouds — His name is Yahweh–and rejoice before Him.” Psalm 68:4 (HCSB)

 

After being rescued from captivity in Egypt, the Israelite people were guided around the desert for forty years by a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). Whether we are called to walk a road that we can see far down the path or not, rest in the assurance that God, Yahweh, will provide the light we need to walk the road we are called to (Psalm 119:105). When we find ourselves slumping into a place of depression and lack of hope to make it through a tumultuous time, reflect on the Lord’s faithfulness. This is the very thing the Israelites did as they would travel to Jerusalem three times a year for their great festivals. Psalm 126 is one of these such songs of ascent that were sung by the Israelite people as they would travel to Jerusalem. Much in the same way, our strength and hope are sharpened, as were the Israelites, as we take the time to reflect on the goodness of God in the midst of a trying time. It is of great comfort to take hold of the solid truth that the LORD is mighty to save—in His perfect timing and His perfect way (Isaiah 55:8-9).

 

Prayer For Today:

Jesus, please help me to praise You when all I can do is question. You alone are good. You alone are just. You alone can redeem this situation. I pray that You will give me praise and an undeniable joy in knowing that You have a purpose for this season. Please be with (name)__________ in the midst of the pain. Please work in miraculous ways to bring healing—in Your mighty name, for Your glory. I know that one day, all sickness, sin and death will finally be defeated due to Your victory (Revelation 21:4). Help me to faithfully trust You and listen to You each day as I return sincere praise that You are God and You can make a way where there is no way. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

**Week Eight in review:

Please take a moment to reflect on the biblical realities of promised peace amidst chaos. What are some things you can do to declare the Lord’s praise to your own heart in this season of chaos? How good the Lord is to never give us more than we can hand over to Him (1 Peter 5:7). He is worthy to be praised.

 

***Optional Service Project (Acts 20:35):

This week for the optional service project, go for a walk outdoors and pick up ten pieces of trash from the path you walk. When we are in a season characterized by grief and ongoing trauma, finding ways to bless others and see the physical results of our efforts is sincerely gratifying. As you pick up the trash, pray for those who will walk down that same outdoor setting later that day. Ask the Lord to draw others closer to Himself as they are able to see the beauty of His created world (Isaiah 55:11-12).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” Check Point before Week Three

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor”

Check Point before Week Three

 

Check Point: The Heartache of Hello

 

Within a new season of trauma or intense stress, there are many things that change rapidly to alter our surroundings from comfortable to chaotic. In this time, we are forced to not only give up things and routines that have been familiar to us, but we also have to acknowledge the arrival of something new—something unwelcome and foreign into our lives. If you are reading this today and feel that you cannot bring yourself to meet another new doctor, read and sign yet another paper within the court case or even face another day of this present anguish—may your heart be encouraged this very page.

 

As we are willing to realize that heartache is a blessing, we can more fully grasp the fact that our work on this spinning planet is not yet done. Stop and think about that for a moment. The moment that we stop having to work hard to benefit the lives of those around us either directly or indirectly through direct acts of service and prayer, we are surrendering our calling as believers in Jesus Christ. Ladies, in times of debilitating distress, may our hearts and hands reach for the LORD. It is in Him alone that we will find our rest, our hope, our assurance and our peace in the midst of the storm. And as we prayerfully continue to walk out each day, as difficult and gut wrenching as they may be, we are bringing glory back to the LORD—which is our purpose for drawing each breath.

 

May we not allow the devil to taste the victory of our own defeat due to devastation. No, as believers in Jesus Christ, we have the ability to tap into the eternal source of life giving power. What is that power? The mighty and undisputed name of Jesus Christ. Remember, the demons know the power of Jesus Christ’s name and have to flee (Matthew 8:28-32), the angels know the powerful name of Jesus Christ and cannot stop worshipping (Revelation 7:9-12), and creation itself stands still when told to by His mighty word (Mark 4:36-41). The question is, do you sincerely understand the power that you have been entrusted with, as a follower of Jesus Christ (John 14:27, Romans 8:15 & 2 Timothy 1:7)?

 

 

Thank You, Jesus Christ, that You alone are the Mighty Healer and Eternal King (Deuteronomy 10:17, Psalm 89:27 & Revelation 1:5-8). Thank You for Your perfect knowledge and grace (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). Allow me to claim the truths found in Your Word in times of trouble and tattoo them to my heart (Psalm 119:9-16 & Psalm 119:105).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” Week One COMPLETE

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley of Achor” Week One COMPLETE

 

Through The Valley of Achor

 

Prayers for a change in direction drive us to our knees as the calendar ticks down to the unwanted day of departure. Blessings Through The Valley of Achor will remind you that heartache and cries for mercy are woven into the tapestry of all believers. Whether military or millionaire, ditch digger or diplomat, married or single—each life reaches a point where we all fall to our knees and cry out to God. Each day we will meditate on a passage to help us bloom in seasons of great transition and perceived gloom. This book is a devotional for the days that hurt and an encouragement that with God you will make it through (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

 

 

 

 

 

INTRO

 

OUR STORY THROUGH THE VALLEY OF ACHOR (Hosea 2:14-16)

 

After six years of marriage, two precious children and a steady expectancy of the unexpected in our “soldier-diplomat” lifestyle, I had grown a bit comfortable as to what life would look like for us. I was now united to my best friend in marriage. God had worked miracles to ensure our union (read Mirrors to Windows: Change your view to see God’s true romance to see the full account unfold). Phil and I had traveled much of North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe together during our first year of marriage for his profession. God had then honored our prayers for children. God even allowed my husband to be brought back from war in order to be present for our son’s birth—nearly unheard of within the military community. After the birth of our son, we were able to spend time with Phil’s parents before his mama went home to be with Jesus. We had so much to be grateful for. Although we moved every twelve to twenty-four months, I knew that Phil would always be with me to see our family through. He was a man of God and a man of sincere prayer. God had really blessed my children and me. Then, we stepped into a new terrain within our marriage and family. We experienced, more fully, what the Valley of Achor (meaning trouble) really was.

 

With four years in the Middle East and three years previous bouncing across the U.S. and the Arab World as a whole, our roots never sank too deep into any one place. In terms of the heart, since the age of six, my roots and strong standing were in Jesus Christ, my Lord and personal Savior. How blessed I was to have married a man, who also from a very young age, had submitted to Christ. My husband shared my same heart for global adventure and reaching those in need of the eternal security that Jesus Christ brings to the soul.

 

For our six years of marriage and the year prior during our courtship, Phil had always been the cool-headed one in our relationship; the logical, the planner. Well, in short, this is not the type of person he married! If there was something to fret about, more times than not, I was first in line to fill the role. If there was something to rejoice about, more times that not, I was the one waving the biggest pom-pom. And in the midst of it all, we knew that the Lord would see us through all the silliness and sorrow in between.

 

Although I saw military family after military family deeply challenged by the separation that comes with deployment, I was certain that the Lord would not allow me and my family to walk through the hellish experience of being a “married-single parent” as so many do while their loved one is deployed for a year or longer. When we got the news of Phil’s next U.S. Embassy assignment—coupled with the fact that we could not accompany due to safety concerns—I felt as though a horrible joke had just been played on me. In many ways, it was as though I was flashed back to the heartbreaks from my own past. As a young girl, I had always told myself that my family was safe from destruction—but had been proven wrong as divorce gripped the family of my youth. Yet, God provided in the midst of that heartache and used it for His ultimate glory.

 

Fast forward to the present, I was now married to the man I loved, the mama of two precious toddlers whom we loved and completely reeling all over again as I faced a new earthquake within my family. The very man God had led me to marry was now being ripped away from our children and me for an extended time due to his professional dealings with foreign governments. I silently asked the Lord in earnest, “Haven’t I gone through enough?!” [Perhaps, you too can relate to similar internal questions as the earthquakes within your own story disrupt your perceptions of security and what it means to be “safe”.] I could not bring myself to be angry with God—I just could not. I knew, even at that moment—as was true during my youth—that God is good (Nahum 1:7). So, my anger, rage and feelings of betrayal were then directed towards the very one I love most on this earth; my husband.

 

Ladies, allow me to assure you, the devil hates marriage. The Bible often references a marriage to most closely reflect the relationship of Jesus Christ and His body of believers, called the Church or the Bride of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 5:25-27 & Revelation 19:7). Thus, Christian marriages are often attacked as a way of sidelining those looked up to by singles—be they believers in Jesus Christ or not. May we pray for our marriages both while residing under the same roof as well as for periods when we are separated geographically by zip codes and even distant time zones. Take stock in this truth Ladies, the God of perfect love is bigger than our suffering and aching hearts (Romans 8:38-39)! I can testify that this has been the case for us and it now can be the case for you, too.

 

This study is unique in the fact that it has been written in response to the nudging the Lord has put upon my own heart—to counsel my own heart for not only the year apart from the man I love most in the world—but then the return of our family to the Middle East in response to the Lord’s leading. I would love to say that my children were spared of the stress, the chaos and the heartache that has been associated with this traumatic season of saying good-bye, hello and good-bye again to Daddy for an extended time and later friends, but that simply has not been the truth. If you too, are a parent who has felt that you have “missed the mark” to represent Jesus Christ under the current pressure you are living in, may I encourage you this very day. God is bigger than our problems, bigger than our blow-ups, and bigger than our deepest pain (2 Peter 1). Listen to me now, do not give up! You are not a quitter. You were made for so much more than this heartache and turmoil. Keep pressing into the Lord; you may not be able to see the end in sight yet, but rest assured, the best is yet to come!

 

Begin by confessing your shortcomings to the Lord (1 John 1:9-10) and ask for His help in walking through this Valley of Trouble with Him (Psalm 23). This will actually make you stronger and more stouthearted through the reading and meditation on the Word of God; the Holy Bible (Psalm 119:50) and daily bringing your requests and sincere heart before the Lord in prayer (Philippians 4:6).

 

The Word of God is where our hearts can be encouraged and redirected back to the Lord in times of chaos and great turmoil (Psalm 119:105, Proverbs 6:23 & 2 Peter 1:19). Hold fast to the biblical knowledge that with Jesus Christ, He will faithfully lead you out.

 

 

“The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,

He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

 

Planted in the house of the Lord,

They will flourish in the courts of our God.

 

They will still yield fruit in old age;

They shall be full of sap and very green,

 

To declare that the Lord is upright;

He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

 

Psalm 92:12-15 (NASB)

 

To my LORD Jesus Christ, Who has been faithful to walk my precious family through each mountaintop and valley of this great adventure. May praise and hope in Jesus Christ alone be gleaned from these pages.

 

Christ is the answer

 

 

Theme of Week One: God Hears Me

 

Week One, Day One:

 

“The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (HCSB)

 

There are times in our lives when we cry out to God, with nothing left to say. Our hopes seem dashed. Our prayers appear unanswered. And, deep down, we may even fear that God simply could not fix the situation at this point anyway. On days like this, soak in the truth of God’s Word. The words of Psalm 34:18 beautifully reminds us, that not just today, but each day, the LORD is near and saves those who are crushed. What a comfort to recall that in such seasons of our lives, regardless of the duration, the LORD is near and indeed saves.

 

Prayer for the day:

Dear LORD, help (name)_____. You see the pain. You see the complexity of the situation. Thank you that Your Holy Bible is trustworthy and true. Please give (name)______ the assurance that this very day, You are providing comfort and presence in this incredibly difficult time. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Two:

 

“For the High and Exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this:” I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.” Isaiah 57:15 (HCSB)

 

Royalty dwells in palaces with elegance and lighthearted living. Yet, praise God that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, wanted to have fellowship with each of us. The Bible assures us that each life is so treasured to God that even while we were still involved in crazy living, Jesus paid our ransom (1 John 4:9). Rest in the reality today that your life is so precious to God that He stepped out of His royal living in order to revive each heart that becomes oppressed by sorrow, guilt and pain.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You for caring for each of our lives. Thank you for caring for (name) _________ life. Thank You that Your Word, the Holy Bible, assures us that we are never alone in our sorrows. It is You, the High and Exalted One who revives our hearts. Help (name) _______ to claim this truth for today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Three:

“The God of old is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He drives out the enemy before you and commands, “Destroy!” Deuteronomy 33:27 (HCSB)

 

Have you ever just needed someone to back you up? When we belong to Jesus Christ, as we call upon His name, we are tapping into the eternal power of God. The same God that created the world (1 John 1:1), delivered the Israelites from the hands of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:29-31) and raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Matthew 28:5-7) is the same God you can call upon this very day. As we learn to find comfort and refuge underneath the powerful arms of Almighty God, we will see that it is God who will destroy our problems, in His perfect timing.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You for being all knowing and all powerful. Thank You for not only seeing the problems in (name) _______ life, but also destroying these problems, in Your perfect timing. Help me to claim this truth for today. You are trustworthy and Your timing is perfect. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Four:

 

“Be a rock of refuge for me, where I can always go. Give the command to save me, for You are my rock and fortress.” Psalm 71:3 (HCSB)

 

When the diagnosis is worse than expected, call on the LORD to be your rock. When the relationship appears forever shattered, call on the LORD to be your fortress. When you no longer feel in control of your life and wonder if there is a point to continue on, call on the name of the LORD to be your rock and fortress. Regardless of our situations, no matter how deep the pain, there is always hope in Jesus Christ. Take a deep breath today and hold fast to this prayer of Psalm 71:3. This verse is a plea for God’s help. Make it your own today—God is waiting for your permission to intervene in the story. In faith, put the name of the one in trouble on the rock of Jesus today.

 

***Have a picture of a rock sketch here.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, please be the safe house of refuge for (name) ___________. Thank You that at Your word, rescue is realized within any situation. Help (name) ________ to grant You the permission to intervene into this situation today. Please be the rock for (name) ______ in a special way this day. Thank you, LORD. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

Week One, Day Five:

 

2Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry! 3For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol.” Psalm 88:2-3 (NASB)

 

There are seasons in life that simply leave us numb. Yet, no matter how mad we get, no matter how many nasty words we speak, the outcome does not change. When we feel overwhelmed by helplessness and inadequacy, may we cry out to the LORD in an unvarnished way. The God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, has broad shoulders. Bring your pain—the situations that have numbed your heart—to the LORD today. He is ready to rescue you in the midst of it all (1 Peter 5:7).

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, help (name) ________ with feelings of being numb and overwhelmed. Thank You, Jesus, that we can come to You with honesty and know that You care about even the smallest details of our lives. Help this truth to be made clear to (name) ______ today. In Your name I pray, amen.

 

 

Week One, Day Six:

 

“I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech.” Psalm 17:6 (NASB)

 

In sports, there is a moment when only the best of the best can save the play or win the game. The psalmist is making a similar plea. He acknowledges that God is the one who has always come through for him. May we take time today to speak this truth to the Lord from our own personal stories. Not only will it bless the Lord, but it will be a sincere encouragement to our own hearts as we recall the various ways God has saved the day in the past. If you are new to the faith, know that God is ready to do the same for you that He has been in the business of doing for all of humanity since inception—saving the day—with the perfect play.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Jesus, thank You that I can approach You with my needs. Thank You that (name)_______ can approach You with needs as well. Please minister to (name)_______ heart today. Help (name)______ to lay the heavy burdens down because You really do care for (name)________. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

Week One, Day Seven:
“O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion.” Daniel 9:18 (NASB)

 

This prayer in Daniel is one that echoes that all are helpless to restore what is needed—apart from the Lord’s help. With humility to God’s greatness and openly stated need, Daniel earnestly presented his requests to the Lord. In the midst of our own chaos, may we be a Christian people who are marked by this trait of running to God with both humility to God’s awesome power and acknowledgement that He indeed is more than able to come through in any situation.

 

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Lord, hope is found in You alone. Please minister to (name)_______ as the battle wages on today. Thank You that you see the destruction and will bring rescue to the situation, through Your great compassion, at Your perfect time. Help (name)_________ to cling to You in a new way today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

 

 

**Week One in review. Please write down the most meaningful verse from this past week below. As you do, please take the time to thank God for His Word. There is such a depth of strength that we are able to tap into by praying the Lord’s promises back to Him. He is faithful to sustain us in all our sorrows. Thank the Lord for His faithfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

** Optional Service Project (Acts 20:35): This week, find someone to bless with a small assortment of flowers simply because Jesus loves them. It could be a neighbor, co-worker, friend at church, etc. In doing this, pray for this individual to feel the love of God in a new way this week.

 

It’s Terminal: Living In The Midst of Certain Change For The Glory of Jesus Christ

With sweaty palms and a racing heart, you wait. With fidgeting feet and a silent, fixed gaze, you wait. That moment which you have been holding your breath for has finally arrived. The news could be exciting or all together horrifying. Yet, in the unknown places you remain—simply waiting to hear—if it’s terminal.

 

The term “terminal” is often associated with life threatening diseases, but I dare argue that such a term is also fitting in the midst of major life change. As a military wife of nearly a decade, such feelings surface deep within the soul on the cusp of yet another move. The location ahead may be thrilling. The description of life ahead may bring a smile to one’s face as many happy days can be seen ahead. Yet, even still, there comes a time when one must then say good-bye to the present reality around them.

 

For however long, the military family has prayed, toiled and bent over backwards to quickly establish roots for their children and help to soften the blow of yet another transition. Whether that move is across America or across foreign seas is irrelevant. The feeling of deep loss and ache of leaving cannot easily be pushed aside or smiled away. No, this location, these beloved friends, this current route to the grocery store or favorite park—are all now seen through the eyes of impending good-bye. And as this seeps into the hearts of friends and colleagues, the military family watches as others begin to naturally pull away—as this reality is indeed unfolding and the pain is felt on all sides.

 

Often times, it is in the darkest places that a military family will find themselves feels utterly alone—away from family and their closest confidants they wait. Time zones, zip codes and other such differences make it challenging to keep in touch with those dearly loved in previous locations. Yet, the God who made them—sees them. Right where they are—God Almighty sees them. In the midst of the sorrow of terminal change of location, friends, church and more—God has not moved. God has not changed. And praise God, He cares and His name is JESUS CHRIST.

 

“ 24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:24-34 (NASB)

 

At the end of the day, at the beginning of the day and every moment around the clock—God sees our situation and knows what is best for our life (Psalm 32:8). When the sorrow and pain of change grip your heart, cling to the truth of Scripture that Jesus Christ is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). When you feel without direction and are unsure what to do next, press into God and do His will (Psalm 119:9-16). When you feel faint with the weight of unknowns and weeping children, cry out to the God who cares and will one day dry every tear (Revelation 21:3-4). May I encourage each one reading to wait; not on a diagnosis…not on word of a next assignment…but to WAIT UPON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. For it is written:

26Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.

27Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?

28Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.

29He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.

30Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,

31Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40: 26-31 (NASB)

 

As we approach Memorial Day and remember all those who have sacrificed and served, may I challenge us all to pray for Jesus Christ to strengthen and protect military families. And the next time you interact with a service member and their family, may I suggest a little extra grace, a little extra understanding and a lot of extra prayer for those who are continually living in a place of uprooting, planting and serving within a given community—for your safety and for mine. God bless all who serve—both in uniform and those holding down “the home front”.

Cement Trees: Looking for the Authentic Church in a sea of “Amens”

On the freeway system, we often pass tall walls of barriers near housing developments. When traveling on a sea of asphalt, how nice it is to see a tree, even a cement one. Yet, something hit me the other day on a long road trip while I saw this very sight across four lanes of traffic. On one side of the road stood the tall retaining walls with etched oak trees and on the opposite side of the traffic, a vibrant orchard. Immediately, upon seeing the real trees, my heart was happy to see the real thing. The leaves moved in the wind and danced in the sunshine. Yet, the cement trees, were cold, rigid and without life.

 

As I continued to drive, the Lord began to point out to my heart how this is like much of the modern day Christian church. There has been a major problem that has plagued the modern Christian church for quite some time now. And, if we as believers in Jesus Christ are not willing to address this issue and come to grips with it, we will watch more and more artificial messages become erected behind pulpits, and worse, translated into modern translations of Biblical Christian doctrine.

 

Much like the view of real trees near housing developments, the modern Christian church is watching a staggering number of churches and even denominations walk away from sound doctrine, based on actual written words of the Holy Bible, and replacing it with a mantra that you are entitled to have your “best life now” and “name it and claim it”. The idea of suffering in the world of many Christian churches has become reserved for spiritual attacks. And if one dares to accept the burden, it is determined that one is still sick/troubled/experiencing great suffering because they simply did not believe or have enough faith. Yet, is this what the Holy Bible teaches? Let us hear the words of a great man of God, the Apostle Paul, who was used by God greatly to advance the message of hope, that is Jesus Christ, to all people.

 

7Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:5-10 (NASB)

 

Now, as the Apostle Paul demonstrated, it is right and good to ask for God to change our circumstances. It is great to ask for God to move heaven and earth to show His mighty power over the world, which He created. But…and here’s the big but…when God says no or God says wait…we have to see those answers as a gift from God too. How?

 

Because He has a much bigger picture of healing and redemption that He is writing…and it simply isn’t time for you/me/the affected individual to understand His ways.

 

“8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. 9 ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:8-11 (NASB)

 

Rather than preaching the word of God, which states the supremacy of God (Isaiah 6:1-8) and the unquenchable power of the Risen Christ (Hosea 6:2, Acts 2:24 & 1 Corinthians 15:3-4), a false gospel is preached that rather than serving God—God should serve us. And if God would not do things as we see fit (again, are we not the created ones (Psalm 139:14, Ephesians 2:10? How could we then speak so boldly to the One who created us with such disdain and contempt?) taking away the reality that at times, they are in fact growing seasons for our faith to grow deeper in the Lord Jesus as we wait upon His timing.

 

May we pray hard (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)—and praise Him even harder (Psalm 69:29-31)—for the battle is the Lord’s (Psalm 20:7) and He truly sees all details of every given situation in utmost love, compassion and sovereign authority over all (Jeremiah 29:11-13). May we call upon Him in all circumstances—even this very moment of reading this line—and apologize to Him for not coming to Him sooner…then praising Him for His goodness, His all knowing-power and His willingness to intervene in His perfect sovereignty into the lives of all humanity for our goodness and His glory. May Jesus Christ alone be praised!

 

11‘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.12‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (HSCB)

The 3:16 Challenge

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB)

 

What do all these people have in common: An AIDS orphan in Ndola, Zambia, a prostitute between clients in the Soy Cowboy district of Bangkok, Thailand, an abaya wearing divorcee raising a child by herself, a quiet art student in Chung Ching, China and a high schooler from Tampa, Florida?

 

Any guesses?

 

What about these people: A homosexual woman raising a child with her lesbian lover, a man who is the quarterback on his college football team, an illegal immigrant in hiding, a convicted murderer of a school shooting and a regular church attender?

 

Answer: Each and every person listed above needs to hear about the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ.

 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)

 

And until these people hear of Jesus Christ, how will they be able to accept Him – if they do not know Him?

 

“11 Now the Scripture says, everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

 

14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things! 16 But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.” Romans 10:11-17 (NASB)

 

We may look back at these lists and think, “Well, I can see how that person would be loved by God, but that one…that one doesn’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness! It just wouldn’t be right!” If we find ourselves struggling to come to grips with the reality that all people are invited to come seek forgiveness through the completed work of Jesus Christ, it’s time to have a serious soul check before God Almighty.

 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (HCSB)

 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NASB)

 

Ladies, let’s get honest here—the grace and eternal favor of God cannot be earned, manipulated, stolen, accumulated or statistically generated. It is not a matter of how “good” we may look to others or how detestable someone else’s life may look compared to our own; it all comes down to the rebellious nature of the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

 

“Boast no more so very proudly, Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; For the LORD is a God of knowledge, And with Him actions are weighed.” 1 Samuel 2:3 (NASB)

  

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)

 

 

When modern day slavery is at an all time high, when suicide rates of young ones has become a global epidemic, when the lost, broken and hurting feel that there is no way out of their lives of pain—MAY WE BE CROSS-EYED—and turn them to the cross of Jesus Christ. May we share with unabashed joy the hope, healing and new life offered to all who truly come and fall at the feet of Jesus Christ; who died upon a cross for all so that we may eternally live through accepting Him as the Lord of our lives (Acts 16:31)! 

 

I challenge each and everyone reading this article today, to take the 3:16 Challenge. What is it? You may be asking. Whenever the clock says 3:16, morning or evening, pray for the lost and hurting to come to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. And not just pray for them, but ask God for the opportunities to reach these lost people. Because, ladies, it doesn’t matter how “good” life on earth may look for a given person, if they do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, hell and eternal punishment for the rebellion of each soul awaits (John 3:18). And you know what? God loves each one of us enough to offer freedom out of this place of eternal separation from God—through personal acceptance of the love and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ for our own lives (1 John 4:9-10).

 

You see, when Jesus Christ died upon the cross of Calvary between two criminals, He cried out, “Father, please forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). And when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, just as He said He would (John 10:18) on the third day from being in the tomb (Matthew 28:6), the punishment for all rebellion of humanity against a righteous and holy God was satisfied (Isaiah 53:5). Therefore, we now know the name by which we can be saved from hell—Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God (Acts 4:12).

 

Check the time…is it 3:16? Let us pray with passion to the God who passionately loves all people from all backgrounds, all nations, all cultures and all twisted living. We do not earn the love of God–it is freely offered to all–now may we freely love those enough around us to share of God’s glorious plan of redemption, hope and healing for each complex situation and failed attempt at life….Jesus Christ proved that each and every heart was eternally valuable to Him through His death for our failings while He Himself was innocent of all sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). And now, it is our responsibility as the Church of Jesus Christ to pick up His passion for those He came to save–ALL (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

 

Dear Lord Jesus, please ignite Your Church to boldly proclaim Your name and Your message of hope, restoration and ultimate healing through You! May hearts be stirred, feet be moved and mouths be opened to share of this glorious news that You loved Your own creation so much that You gave Your own live to ransom us from the grip of condemnation and redeemed us to enjoy peace, purpose and eternal life with You! Give us Your eyes for those around our world and our cities who are in such desperate need of Your gospel of unconditional love for all people—for we all so desperately need Your forgiveness. Thank You for offering it so freely, without finding fault, for all who call upon Your name. You are the King of kings and the Lord of lords! We lift up Your name high, Jesus, and ask for Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!

Mass Shootings In America

“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

Matthew 10: 26-31 (NASB)

 

In the wake of yet another mass shooting that has claimed the lives of various ages, America finds itself soul searching. The nation is left to wonder, what would drive someone to kill; again. And some have questioned as to the goodness and very essence of God, as a result of allowing such evil within a place of worship. Yet, as Christians, may our minds not be filled with confusion, but rather reassurance from the Word of God.

 

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (NASB)

 

Ladies, may we take an honest assessment of the world in which we live; the devil is very much on the move. He is influencing the hearts and minds of willing individuals to steal, kill and destroy property, values and even the very lives of others. Yet, this sinister plan to devastate humanity is nothing new for the devil. In fact, the devil has prodded willing individuals and groups to carry out his dastardly deeds against the plans of God. We see this first hand in the account of Adam and Eve within the book of Genesis chapter 3. God had specifically called one tree off limits for Adam and Eve, yet the devil was able to plant seeds of doubt and discontentment which gave way to rebellion and ultimate death (Genesis 3:1-24).

 

Jesus Christ put it this way, “”The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 (NASB)

 

Amidst yet another time of great grieving, and sincere loss, as a follower of Jesus Christ, may we not lose our eternal perspective of the sheer sovereignty of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:33)! May we pray to the God over all to provide the essential comfort and healing for each and every individual affected by the loss of life (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3 & Isaiah 57:15).

 

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18 (NASB)

 

May we claim the truths of the Holy Bible that nothing can pluck us out of the hand of Almighty God once we have entrusted our lives to Jesus Christ (John 3:16, John 17:6, John 17:12, John 18:8-9, Galatians 3:28-29, 1 John 1:9-10, 1 John 4:9-10) . The families who are grieving are indeed needing comfort from the Holy Spirit, but praise God Almighty that as believers in Jesus Christ, they do grieve without hope.

 

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NASB)

 

Contrary to the popular preaching of “prosperity gospel”—which twists passages from the Holy Bible to imply that a true follower of Jesus Christ should never endure hardship, health problems or suffering of any kind—simply stated, this is not taught anywhere in the Bible. In fact, within the Holy Bible, in the book of Hebrews 11:1-40 (also known as the “Hall of Faith”) heroes of the faith are listed long with the great difficulties they endured before achieving greatness for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet, the final verses of chapter 11 also speak of the mistreatment for the same God.

 

35Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38(men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”

Hebrews 11:35-38 (NASB)

 

 

Ladies, may we see the full picture of those who follow Jesus Christ. We are given eternal security and peace with God Almighty through Jesus Christ; yes, this is ironclad truth. Thank you, Jesus! BUT this does not mean that we may not suffer extreme hardship within our lives that may include persecution, torture or even death. Why? Because this is a fallen world since humanity rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden. But praise God for our Risen Savior Jesus Christ who came to seek and save all who call upon His eternal name (Luke 19:10, John 3:17 & 1 Timothy 1:15).

 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.”

1 Peter 5:6-10 (HCSB)

 

Suffering is not a topic that anyone enjoys, but within a fallen world with many forms of evil, as followers of Jesus Christ, may we RUN TO A WORLD THAT IS DYING with the secure hope of eternity through the perfect life, innocent death and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ the reigning and eternal King. 

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 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;”

1 Peter 1:3-7 (NASB)

 

Ladies, if you find yourself reading this today and wondering, “then what the heck is the point?!” The point is that various trials on this earth are used like refining fire is used to purify and burn out impurities of both gold and silver (Psalm 66:10, Proverbs 17:3 & Daniel 12:10).

When we experience hard times or witness mass injustice, our souls cry out for justice. When we see heinous acts committed against innocent lives, we want to see someone pay for the violation. And on a much broader scale, this is exactly what Jesus Christ did when He came to earth for each and every breathing soul (Isaiah 53:5-6). Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35), lived a perfect life as God in the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15), and died a criminal’s death as an innocent man (1 John 3:5). Who did He die for? He died for me…and you…and the rest of humanity from every language, tribe and people group. Why? Because the Holy Bible states that each of us have fallen short of the perfect standard that is expected by a truly righteous and just God (Romans 3:23). And as a result of our rebellion to meeting the standard of God, justice needed to be paid. And that is exactly what Jesus fulfilled in His coming! Praise the Lord! He paid the price that not one of us could (1 Peter 1:18-19). And in return, gave us a reward that not one of us could earn (Luke, 23:42-43, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:23-27, 1 John 4:9-10).

If you have never accepted the Lord Jesus into your own heart, I encourage you to do so this very day. This world is only a blink of the eye in relation to eternity. Secure where you stand with Almighty God, now, I beg you. Receive the cleansing from all wrong doing and shameful acts that mar each of our hearts before receiving the washing of Jesus Christ of our souls.

 

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)

 

You can pray with me now. If you mean these words before God, you can be assured that Jesus Christ has come into your heart.

 

Dear Jesus, I have made mistakes and missed the mark of perfection. I ask for You to forgive me and to come into my heart as the leader and Lord of my life forever. I believe that You are the Son of God. Thank you for taking my screw ups upon Yourself and taking the penalty for me. Thank You for then giving me eternal life for believing in You. Help me to honor You with how I live. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

If you have just prayed that prayer, please reach out to a local pastor or even this blog post so we can encourage you and celebrate with you! Praise the Lord for new life through Jesus Christ!

 

“He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-12 (HCSB)