I grew up in an era when the threat of nuclear war loomed large. So my childhood television viewing was often interrupted by an annoying, high-pitched, 60-second blast and this announcement: This is a test…of the emergency broadcast system…this is only a test.
The Bible talks a lot about tests. A test shows our strengths and weaknesses. Any good coach or teacher tests their students. In today’s reading of John 6, Jesus gives a pop-quiz to his disciple Philip.
Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do (John 6:5,6). Continue reading
Leave a comment | tags: faith, miracles, prayer, thanksgiving, trust | posted in anxiety
Trust. It’s hard to earn and easy to lose. Who do you consider to be truly trustworthy? In our fast-paced world, dominated by social media, it’s easy to create a friendly facade. How much harder to maintain trust.
The Bible talks a lot about trusting God. Our relationship with Him is based on trust. So if we struggle with trust, we probably struggle with God. That’s nothing new. People have struggled with trusting God since those fateful days in Eden.
I remember several years ago when I had one of those “mother moments.” It all boiled down to this: I was having a hard time trusting God with one of my children. Ever been there? I was letting my imagination run wild with “what if'” scenarios. I carried the anxiety to bed with me. I was still worrying in my sleep, when an audible voice whispered these words: “I can be trusted.” First person, singular. “Who was THAT?” I wondered, now half-awake. Continue reading
Leave a comment | tags: God's Word, John, overcoming anxiety, prayer, trust, worry | posted in anxiety, Wake Up and Pray! Be Alert
God is near to the broken hearted. He loves us when we’re weak. But He wants to make us strong. It’s not hard to embrace the concept that God is close to us when we suffer. After all, we love our own children and hold them close when they’re in pain.
We may secretly wonder whether God wants to keep us weak so we’ll be more devoted to Him. Sadly, that’s like saying that as a mom, I would rather my children be sick and wounded so they’ll want to hang around me more. Of course not! I want to help them return to strength so they can live life to the fullest.
But, I have to confess. I have experienced God’s greatest strength during times when I am broken. I would never have known Jesus as healer if I hadn’t gone through years of infertility and the subsequent healing that resulted in our three children. Nor could I have comprehended God’s mighty power if I hadn’t seen Him set me free from stubborn fears. And of course, I could never have grasped His saving grace if I hadn’t come face to face with my condition as a sinner. Perhaps you have your own stories.
I invite you to join us for 21 Days of Strength. We’ll explore ways to find God’s power during times of weakness, along with stories and practical tips from those who have experienced God’s strength first hand.
Let’s take a few minutes to reflect upon following encounter in 1 Samuel 30. Upon returning from battle, David and his mighty men are horrified to find their village raided and burned, their wives and children taken captive by the violent Amalekites. Click here to read the entire account.
David and his men “wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.” Can you imagine the sound? The despair? The men were so distressed they even talked of stoning David. What would you do under these circumstances? Where would you turn for strength? For David, one simple sentence says it all: “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).
After seeking the Lord, David receives this answer: “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” Which is exactly what happened. David and his men defeated the Amalekites and returned with all their family members safe and sound, along with all that had been stolen. Their victory was riveting—and complete.
I’ll leave you with this simple question: How do you strengthen yourself in the Lord? I’m hoping that at the end of our 21 Days of Strength, we’ll better understand what Paul meant when he said, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Leave a comment | tags: faith, hope, strength, trust | posted in Arm Yourself with Spiritual Strength, finding strength
If we want to live in hope, we must guard against “hope-killers”—those pesky predators that seek to destroy our God-given dreams. One of the most insidious hope-killers is anxiety. Like a slow leak, anxiety drains out the belief that we can trust God with our future. It then fills us with a low-grade dread that steals our joy. No wonder mental health experts are disturbed by the growing numbers of those suffering from anxiety—now the most common mental illness in the U.S.
I’ve discovered a simple prayer that helps quench anxiety and build hope. It goes something like this: “Lord, I surrender this dream into Your hands. I trust You to answer my heart’s desire in a way that goes beyond what I even know to ask.” In other words, “Surprise me, God, with more than I can imagine.” I call this “praying beyond.” This prayer is right in line with the Bible’s encouragement to entrust our dreams to the One “who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20 NASB).
Praying beyond also helps me take my focus off the obstacles to my dream—or what I can see with my eyes—and fix my mind, instead, on God’s powerful promises. Praying beyond moves me out of the realm of fear into faith, fueling my hopes and dreams. Taking new territory. Walking on water.
Not too long ago, I was reading Ephesians 3:20 again—this time in a different Bible version. The words put a fresh twist on my “praying beyond” verse: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV).
I continued to ponder the words “above all” as I went for a run: “God, maybe You’re encouraging me to look down upon my hopes and dreams as though I’m seated up above with You in the heavenly realm. From where You’re sitting, I imagine my hopes and dreams look pretty easy—nothing’s too hard for You. I believe You’re able to do above all I can ask or think.”
I rounded the corner and jogged by several buses. Suddenly, I had to smile as I looked at the name on the side of one bus. Seemed God was making His point loud and clear…and His answer was above all I could ask or imagine.
Leave a comment | tags: anxiety, dream, Ephesians 3:20, faith, hope, trust | posted in Arm Yourself with Spiritual Strength, Be Specific when You Ask, hopes and dreams, Wake Up and Pray! Be Alert
Friendship belongs to those who fear the Lord. With them He shares His secrets… (Psalm 25:14 TLB)
I love a good secret, don’t you? Keeping a secret requires that we remain on our guard. We don’t want to “spill the beans” in a thoughtless moment. The Bible tells that God has secrets–and shares His secrets with His friends. Jesus said, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15). Prayer is kind of like keeping a secret with God. We take our secret requests to Him and remain alert to His voice–ready to take action as He leads.
When our children were small, I made up a little game called the “Secret Mailbox Club” to help them get a picture of what it means to entrust our secret hopes and dreams into God’s hands. I reminded them that when I put mail in our family’s mailbox, I put the flag up and walk away. I don’t pitch a tent and wait anxiously for the mailman.
I encouraged the children to draw a picture of their heart’s desire, a secret hope, a cherished dream. We put these “prayers” into our handmade construction paper mailbox and put the flag up. “Now, let’s trust God with our secret prayers,” I ‘d tell them. “We can be sure He will send the answers in His way and in His time.”
This little game helped them (and me) grasp the concept of trust, and what it means to “cast our cares on Him…” (1 Peter 5:7). If we truly trust in the character of our loving, all-powerful God, we can pray and walk away knowing that He knows what’s best for us. Our hopes and dreams are now safely in His hands. And we’ll rest secure as we wait for our “mail” to arrive.
Leave a comment | tags: dreams, faith, hope, prayer, secret hopes, trust, waiting | posted in Agree with Others in Prayer, Arm Yourself with Spiritual Strength, Be Specific when You Ask, hopes and dreams, wait training