Find Hope in Him

Tonight as I read of the shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, my heart is broken because so many families are hurting.  My heart is broken because I know there are people whose faith will be challenged. There are people who will become angry and blame God, and allow Satan to be victorious just as I did years ago.  Satan is a master of confusion and doubt.  He uses acts of terror like this to cause us to turn our backs on God in a time when we should instead find hope in Him.

Decades ago, before the mass shootings we hear of today, the pastor of my youth was shot and killed in the office of his church.  My heart was broken.  My faith was shattered.  And for a time Satan was victorious because for years I questioned how God could allow such an attack on my previous pastor.  Jeff Krahn was in the church!  He was doing what God called him to do!  I began to doubt everything I had learned about God.  I grew angry with God for allowing this to happen, but eventually I learned that Jeff would not want me to be angry with God because he was prepared for death no matter the time or form in which it came.

It was during that time of doubt that God gave me the following scripture to restore my wavering faith:  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15). These verses confirmed for me that I could continue trusting everything I had learned about God since childhood.  Everything that I had learned under Jeff’s teaching and the pastors and Sunday School teachers before him.  Everything I had learned from my mother and grandmother.  All of those things convinced me that God is real, He loves each one of us unconditionally, and true hope can only be found in Christ.  I realized that each of us has an appointed time, and all that matters is whether we have accepted Jesus as our personal Savior.  We may go through difficult times that cause us to doubt, but we can lean on and trust the things that we have seen God do in the past and know that He will see us through again.

Since then I have been through many other difficult times, but my faith has grown stronger each time because even through the trials, I’ve also seen God do miraculous things.  I’ve felt His unconditional love, and I refuse to give Satan the power to shatter my faith again.  I’ve learned that there are times that God stops pain, and there are times that He allows it.  I don’t always understand, but I do know that even in times of desperation, God is still on the throne.  He is still in control.  He will always be right there with us, and we can continue to hope in Him.
When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:2-3)

Pray today for those suffering after this tragedy to find hope that only God can provide.

You will not drown

 

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Satan is a Bully

The most powerful bully we will ever encounter attacks in ways that we may not even recognize as his work.  Satan is a bully with many tactics, and he will use absolutely anyone or anything to initiate his attacks.  He will attack your relationships, your health, your confidence, and your ministry.  There is absolutely no part of your life that he considers off limits.  He will use the actions and words of people around you to cause doubt, confusion, and insecurities in yourself.  He will cause  widespread chaos in your life in an attempt to knock you down physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

He attacks when you are weak.  He doesn’t care how much you’ve already been through or even what you are currently going through.  He attacks when you are strong.  His goal is to bring you down, to discourage you, to break your faith in God.  He purposely seeks you out.  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).    

The defenses we teach children to guard against the attacks of a bully can also be helpful with the attacks we face daily from Satan.

  • Walk away – Turn your back on Satan or any issue he throws your way and turn your focus instead to God.  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
  • Go tell a teacher/adult – Run to God.  Tell Him what’s going on.  I assure you that He already knows what’s going on, but running to Him shows that you trust Him to take care of you.  He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield (Psalm 144:2).
  • Stay calm – Don’t let fear of what Satan is doing control your thoughts and emotions because God is with you.  Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).
  • Ask for help – Seek support from Christian friends.  Let them know you are struggling, so that they can encourage and pray for you.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
  • Stand up for yourself – Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11).

When Satan attacks, seek God’s direction for reassurance that you are doing what He’s called you to do.  If you are in His will, don’t stop.  Keep pushing forward no matter what seeds Satan tries to plant in your heart or mind.  I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid (John 14:27)

For Such a Time as This

Don’t ever doubt that God is at work in your life. He is working in you and through you to accomplish a greater purpose. You may not see it, but He’s doing something bigger than you could imagine.

Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? Esther 4:14

Esther was told that she may have become queen just so she could save their people from the plan to have all Jews killed. She didn’t just wind up in this position. Maybe God placed her there for the exact purpose of approaching the king to beg for the lives of the Jews because only she had the exact qualities needed to accomplish that task.

Three qualities Esther had that we can also use when facing a challenge: willingness, wisdom, and courage. First, she was willing. She didn’t immediately say no. So often we say no without even truly considering if it’s something God wants us to do. Also, Esther was wise. She asked her friends to pray, and she waited for God’s timing. During that time, God prepared the heart of the king, but He also prepared Esther’s heart. Finally, she had the courage to know that God was in control and would guide and protect her. She didn’t allow fear to discourage her.

What seems like an overwhelming situation or even an insignificant detail in our day or life, may actually be part of God’s plan and purpose.

We don’t always realize it at the time, but maybe where you are right now is because you were made “for such a time as this”.

Strength Renewed

The Lord goes before youThe journey of life is often long and difficult. There are many obstacles in our way that cause discouragement, grumbling, and questions. Our circumstances may leave us feeling like the Israelites as God led them to the promised land. God had promised something better than the life they were leaving, but they faced many struggles along the way.

Exodus 13:17 says, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.”Why not?The Israelites were finally free from slavery, and God was leading them to the PromisedLand. Why wouldHe make them go the long way? As we read on we see that travelling the shortest route would result in being attackedby the Philistine army. God knew if they faced a battle, they might turn and head back to Egypt.They simply were not ready.SoHe protected them from an immediate battle…

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Strength Renewed

Don't let anythingDo you ever feel that you are less of a Christian than others?  We often wonder why others have more faith or why some people seem to have it all together while we struggle daily.  Satan thrives on those insecurities and self-doubts and works diligently to convince us that we have less to offer than others.  Satan assures us that we are “nobody” and could never accomplish what Moses and so many others have done before us.  But God did not create all of us to be Moses.  He wants you to be the person he created you to be.  He has a special plan just for you.  God chose you to be you!

A famous Jewish quote says:  A rabbi named Zusya died and went to stand before the judgment seat of God. As he waited for God to appear, he grew nervous thinking about his life and how…

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Strength Renewed

How many times have you found yourself in a situation in which it seemed the best response was to just grin and bear it? We often practice this technique in the small day to day annoyances so that we don’t come across as rude or cranky. We do it when we aren’t feeling well, and someone asks how we’re feeling so we don’t appear to be a whiner. How many times have you heard or said, “Suck it up, Buttercup”?  Many of us see this manner of dealing with adversity as a strong trait.

I’ve come to realize that even with the big stuff I tend to take this same approach.  It’s as if when I grin and bear it, that is proof of just how strong I am and how much faith I have. But instead maybe it just proves my lack of faith and that I am stubbornly…

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Cloud of Hope

What are you waiting for God to do in your life?  Are there prayers that seem unanswered or ignored by God?  Is He offering you small glimpses of hope that you’ve overlooked, misunderstood, or taken for granted?

We live in a fast-paced society where we expect everything to happen right away.  Fast food delivered right to your door, instant communication without waiting for the mail to run, elevators that move more quickly than taking the stairs, overnight shipping…the list just goes on and on.  So much of what we do, or want, or even need can be done almost instantaneously, and we often forget the satisfaction of receiving a long awaited response.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah is on top of the mountain after God had immediately answered his prayer for fire.  The Israelites had allowed the worship of other gods to separate them from the One true God. Elijah called a test between his God and Baal, the god of the sky. After hours of prayers, Baal failed to burn the offering.  Then Elijah said a short prayer, and God immediately caused a fire to consume the bull, the altar, and even the stones, which were all drenched in water.  After that instantaneous response, Elijah prayed for rain to end a three and a half year drought, but this prayer was not answered immediately.

Sometimes God answers “Yes” right away, and we are able to experience an undeniable miracle right before our eyes.  Other times His answer is “No”.  Maybe we’ve asked for something that is not in our best interest, or our desire does not match with His plan.  Then there are times when the answer is “Wait”.  Wait for rain, wait for healing, wait for answers.  God’s timing doesn’t always meet the instant satisfaction that We prefer, so we tend to grow discouraged when He doesn’t answer our prayers instantly. 

Notice what Elijah did when he didn’t receive an answer right away.  In verse 43, he sent a servant to look toward the sea for a sign of rain.  When there was no sign, he prayed again then sent the servant to look again.  It must have been frustrating after the miracle he had just witnessed when he prayed for fire, but Elijah did not give up.  He continued to pray, wait, and watch for God’s answer.  Seven times he prayed and sent the servant to look for a sign that rain was coming.

Finally, the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea” (1 Kings 18:44).  It wasn’t a sudden outpouring of rain, but it was the glimmer of hope that Elijah needed.  He knew that the rain was coming.  He knew God was answering his prayer!  It wasn’t immediate.  He still had to wait for it, but it was coming.  A cloud no bigger than a man’s hand was all the evidence Elijah needed to know that rain WAS coming.

Like you, I want instant satisfaction. I want immediate answers. More often than not, I’ve had to wait to God’s answer. But many times He has given me glimmers of hope.  Small hints of healing. A small cloud that is  God’s way of reminding us that He is still in control.  His answer may not be immediate, but He’s still at work in our lives.

When answers don’t come right away, don’t give up.  Continue to pray and keep watching.  Keep expecting to see His answer coming in the distance.  Keep watching for that small cloud of hope in the distance that indicates rain is coming!

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