Sunday, September 17, 2017

Finding Strength To Carry On

"And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life." - J.K. Rowling

David was God’s anointed and next in line to be king, but Saul still had the crown and every day he tried new ways to find and kill David. Many times David could have killed Saul, but not wanting to disobey God in doing so, David ran from him instead.  The only safe haven for David, his men, their wives and children was the city of Ziklag.  One day while David and his men were away, the Amalekites raided Ziklag and burned it to the ground, taking their wives and children captive.  David and his men mourned like they’d never mourned before, and when they could mourn no more, David’s men talked about stoning David. This became one of the lowest points in David’s life, and there wasn’t anyone with David to encourage him, but scripture says that “he encouraged (strengthened) himself in the Lord.”  God gave David strength to lead his men to find and defeat the Amakalites to restore what they had lost.  
There will also be low times in our lives when it feels like we are all alone, and that is when we have to remember that God is for us and with us.  Sometimes we have to encourage ourselves in the Lord to find the strength to carry on.  No one else will do it for us.  It’s only when we do ask God for strength that He can restore us anew. 

...he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair... (Isaiah 61:3). 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Letting Go

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.” –Echart Toll

A serious drought had affected Israel and the surrounding territories, and this meant that crops did not grow and people starved.  A poor widow was asked by the prophet Elijah to give him the only remaining food that she had.  She let the prophet know that she had but a little food left for her son and her to eat before they died, but Elijah let her know that if she fed him first then his God would provide for all of her needs.  The poor widow, in spite of not knowing Elijah’s God, went against every parental instinct to serve Elijah first.  In return God provided for all of her needs as promised. Here’s one of the takeaways: if our hands are clutching onto what we want for our lives, our hands are therefor closed to receiving what God has in store for our lives.  Sometimes God asks us to let go of seemingly good things in order to give us great things in return.  

Here’s a pertinent question to ponder: is there something God is asking you to let go of?

"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" (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

From Weak To Strong

“The strength of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going in that way too.”  -Henry Ward Beecher

Apostle Paul planted hundreds of churches and wrote 2/3rd’s of the New Testament, and he was probably the most learnt and accomplished man of his time, but he boasted about his weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9) instead of his strengths.  Why would he do that?  At first glance this seems counterintuitive, but Paul said that his weakness, “a thorn” kept him from conceit so that he humbly depended upon God.  It is solely because of his dependence on God that he’s able to say, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (vs. 10).  Likewise, we ought to boast about our weaknesses (maybe not in a job interview or on first date settings, but to God in our quiet times of prayer), because our weaknesses are what create in us a need for a Savior.  We thus need Someone to save us from sin and death, unfortunate situations, Satan, and very often from ourselves... because we can’t save ourselves. The sooner that we take our weaknesses to God to rely solely on His strength, the sooner that He makes us stronger than we would ever have been on our own. 

Let the weakling say, "I am strong!" (Joel 3:10, NIV). 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What Lies Ahead

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” –C.S. Lewis

God had miraculously parted the Red Sea to deliver Israel out of slavery in Egypt, but now Israel had to sojourn through a dessert to find their promised land.  Each and every day God dropped manna from the sky so that Israel wouldn’t go hungry, but eventually this wasn’t enough.  They complained, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost--also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic” (Numbers 11:5).  Isn’t it interesting that they said, “at no cost”?   They painted a rosier picture of the past, brushing over the fact that they were slaves that broke their backs for this very food.  Israel’s selective memory played tricks on them, inhibiting them from appreciating that what was in front of them was better than what was behind them.  Likewise, our minds can often times long for what we once had, all while forgetting that there were specific reasons why that situation was not meant to be.  Let's not be so stuck on the past, that we neglect to see God’s path.  God has a plan for His children whether we see it or not, but the sooner that we begin to trust that He is leading us, the more joy and peace we have along the way of life’s journey. 

Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21, NIV).

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Beauty for Ashes

“Through my handicaps, I have found myself, my work, my God.”  -Helen Keller

Sampson failed miserably.  This hero warrior of Israel with Hercules-type strength had killed thousands of Philistine enemies, so the Philistines were looking for a way to defeat him.  This Superman’s kryptonite was lust.  Sampson was easily seduced by a Philistine prostitute, Delilah, and he trusted her with the secret of his strength, his long hair.  Delilah cut Sampson’s hair, he became an ordinary man, his eyes were plucked out, and he became a Philistine slave.  This was the epitome of a ‘fall from grace’, but God wasn’t done with Sampson yet.  Sampson’s strength returned, so when his enemies all met to party under one roof, in one last hurrah he demolished their building and destroyed everyone inside.  The obvious lesson for us is that we should be careful with whom we trust with our secrets.  However, the greater theme is that even when we mess up, God can turn our mistakes into miracles.  It doesn’t matter what we have done, or how bad we think that we are, we are still not beneath God using us and even blessing us in greater way than ever before we made the mistake.  God can give us back the years that the enemy stole, so don’t believe the lie that it’s over.  It’s not over!  If there are some of us that haven’t completely surrendered to God up till this point, let’s submit our lives to Christ now, and let God turn things around like only He can do.  

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory (Isaiah 61:3, ESV).

Monday, December 14, 2015


“It is true that integrity alone won't make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one.”  -Zig Ziglar

In way of the reality show, The Bachelor, the Persian King Ahasuerus issued a decree across his kingdom that he was looking for the beautiful woman to appoint as his queen.  The king chose a Jew, Esther.  Perhaps Esther first chalked up her Cinderella story as a bit of good luck, but when the story’s villain, Hamon sought to kill every Jew in the kingdom, Esther realized her queenly platform was God-ordained. God had given Esther her position for a purpose. Thus, she used her voice to speak out against genocide, and in dramatic fashion she risked her life to barge into the king’s private meeting to save her people, and the king favored her.  Esther saved the Jews. Here’s a takeaway for us. It’s God’s favor that opens doors to us, but it’s our integrity that will keep those doors open.  Bigger platforms and higher positions are usually accompanied with a greater weight of responsibility.  Many people would break under this weight of responsibility, but not Esther, and hopefully not you or me either.  Before we ask for God’s favor we must first ask ourselves: “Am I ready for it?”  If so, great; but if not, let's ask God to instead mold us into men and women whom He is calling us to be.  Having high character should always precede having a high position. 

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11, ESV).