In an instant, I felt the sheer peace that accompanied what He was trying to tell me fall like a shroud. I'd been hyperfocusing on the report that came with each new doctor's appointment, waiting with baited breath to hear the newest update. I’d let my line of sight drift, “fixing my eyes” on what the doctors were saying instead of on what we knew to be absolute truth. God was the one to be most trusted and His report was the only one that mattered.
In Corinthians, Paul encourages the Corinthian church, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16–18 NIV).
Paul delivers a bottom-liner that resounds with a fundamental truth - we will face tribulation and trials here on earth, but don’t lose heart, because He can be trusted. He can be trusted with our problems, both big and small, thus, He is where our focus must rest. When we find ourselves dwelling on the problem itself, it’s not very often we find a solution for that problem. It’s when we remain unmoved in our adherence to the Father that things begin to shift.
Friends, when we keep our countenance steady and interlocked with the Holy Spirit, we find our faith strengthened, our joy intact, and a wide open door for miraculous opportunity. Opportunity for healing, for faith building, for Him to wreck the expectations of the oncology board at Mayo - opportunity after opportunity for His Glory to shine.
Sister, I don’t know what you’re facing, but I do know that it doesn’t stand a chance against the Father we have. And I know that shifting the problem starts with keeping our focus on the Problem Solver. He is far more capable of taking care of any temporal problem than you or I, so when uncertainty in the midst of tribulation arises, close your eyes, lean in, and trust Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Every temptation to wonder what “could’ve been” had to die right then and there, because what was ahead was far better than what might have been amidst the rubble.
In Joshua 6, we read of the Lord’s deliverance of Jericho into the Israelites hands after a mighty seven day march and glorious, faith-filled shout, “‘Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!’ Forging into the exposed city, they laid waste to all that was unholy in the Lord’s sight, burning down and destroying with the sword all things living, ‘then they burned the whole city and everything in it…’” (Josh. 6:24).
But what followed that destruction was an oath, “Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: ‘At the cost of his firstborn son he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates’”(Josh. 6:26). A warning to let what was dead stay dead and what had been burned and buried remain so .
How many cities have you torn down only to begin relaying the foundation? What situations have you surrendered at the foot of the cross only to pick them back up? What have you buried in faith only to unearth in fear?
At what cost have you revisited the things you've already laid down? Friend, don’t sacrifice your peace and faith because of the fear of what you might be missing, because when He’s in it, what lies ahead will far surpass what might have been.
When the temptation to pick up something you’ve long since relinquished exposes itself, remember the faith it took to bury it. Remember the faith it must have taken to walk for seven days before finally watching that wall fall. Remember the faith it must have taken to let that rubble lie and know that what was to come was far better.
Let your Jericho fall. Let rest what has been laid to waste, standing firm in faith, and let the future hold His promises unhindered.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.” Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)
Every time I read Revelation now, all I’m reminded of is how worthy He really is. He is worth the discomfort or the ridicule. He is worthy of lifting His name, even, and especially, in the midst of the valleys.
In reading Revelation, John speaks of Jesus’ worthiness. He writes, “He is worthy to take the scroll and open that seal” (Rev. 5:9, 12). When John attests to Jesus being worthy to open the seal, think of it as the scroll being a Holy letter addressed to Jesus alone, being the only One worthy of opening it. He alone was worthy of opening this Holy scroll because He alone died on the cross so that you and I might live! He alone is so worthy that every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and on the sea will proclaim, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13).
How appropriate that worth is such a hot topic these days: how much is land worth? A home? Fuel? Milk and eggs? How much is my career worth in comparison to my family, even my faith? What is it that made Jesus worthy? With worth, there's usually a cost and Jesus’s cost for worthiness was death:
Friends, be encouraged in that when you come face to face with the nature of this world, praise Him anyway. When you find persecution in the workplace, or discomfort in standing alone in your faith, be reminded of His worth. Be reminded that He faced not only ridicule, slander and persecution, but death, and was victorious. The victory that made a way for you and I to know what it is to openly step into that secret place found in unhindered, genuine worship, and find that same victory. Praise Him for paying the price of being our worthy sacrifice, even while we were still in the valley. Praising Him anyway because we can know that perseverance breeds faithfulness and “...faithfulness breeds righteousness” (Rom. 1:17).
He paid it all with His Blood, so be heartened to return that sacrifice with praise, no matter what the valley looks like, because HE is worthy, because He is always faithful in our faithfulness, bringing us, every time, from the valley to the mountain top.
Memory Verse: “And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9
Most often, after the tears subsided and the understanding took over, this was quickly followed with repentant remorse in the form of a tiny kiss or tender “pat-pat-pat” on the leg. On other occasions, the response was less desirable, ending in a full-blown tantrum. And in these moments of varying emotions, I’d often find myself looking at this little being and wondering if God ever felt this way.
In the book of Hosea, we see a pattern of sin that isn’t met with immediate remorse.
The Lord created a parallel, portraying the stubborn unfaithfulness of God’s chosen children, the Israelites. Hosea was instructed to marry Gomer, an unfaithful woman, and have children. Each child named by the Lord in warning of the punishment the Israelites would suffer as a result of their unfaithfulness. Just as Gomer abandoned Hosea, the Israelites had abandoned God, adopting the idols of the Canaanites and turning from the ways of the Lord. Their repentance was slow to manifest, not coming to actualization, but the vision of what their repentance would look like being beautifully illustrated in Hosea 14, “People will dwell again in his shade, they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine - Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.” (v.7)
A promise of restoration from a Father with a loving, gracious heart, even in the midst of their sin, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them” (Hos. 14:3).
In the Israelites’ sin, the Lord’s love was still evident; He still foreshadowed the blessings the Israelites would find in returning to Him while never wavering in the correction He’s always faithful to give.
What we see following all of this sin is the posture of His heart for us.
The evidence that His heart is never for our destruction, but only for our good, because His love is never far removed even in His loving correction. Even when we’re running in every direction but towards Him, He desires for us to experience the promises of a life lived in righteous repentance.
Friends, when we find ourselves toe to toe with disobedience, like the Israelites, be reminded of what repentance can look like. We, too, need to be held accountable, that in our own sin repentance must be absolute. Remember, God’s love is never absent, even in the midst of the consequences. When we find ourselves in a state of awareness of our own sin, it allows for the fullness of His love that’s in us, through His Holy correction, to extend to those around us, whether it be in the wake of repeated offense or something so seemingly harmless as bathwater on the bathroom floor. Through this, may we be quickened to have the very same heart, mirroring His own in ushering graceful accountability.
Even when there is no immediate relent in offense, be gracious of heart, not failing to show the love and mercy we so often receive, but maintaining accountability and extending His promises that are held in divine correction.
Memory Verse: “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call You.” Psalm 86:5
Every time we moved on the Lord’s unction, walking in obedience, it was as if the devil was moving with equal force.
But still, knowing that this was the Lord’s Will, we kept exploring our options - we kept trying. In the end, we circled back to trying Facebook messenger’s video chat one more time.
And, finally, Glory to God, success was realized!
In Nehemiah 2 - 6, Nehemiah was given favor with King Artaxeres by God to, once more, bring redemption and restoration to the Jews. He was sent to Jerusalem to rebuild the ruins of the city and rebuild the wall surrounding it. While Nehemiah and his fellow builders were busy doing what had been ordained, they were met with aggression, intimidation, and even schemes to undermine and harm Nehemiah - opposition upon opposition.
But, what the Lord wills, no man can disparage.
Nehemiah, instead of being discouraged or giving in to doubt or fear, responded with holy defiance and blessed assurance, “Our God will fight for us!” (Neh. 4:20b).
When faced with physical aggression, Nehemiah girded his men with weaponry, stationing half at various points in the wall and the other half continued with the work at hand. Therefore, can we not say that when we are pressed from all sides, we can call forth the holy covering of the Lord, donning ourselves in the Armor of God and standing firm against our adversaries, knowing that we are well equipped and victorious.
When met with intimidation, Nehemiah rose up with holy indignation, rebuking the falsity. So then, when the enemy tries his best to disrupt our confidence in the Lord and His Will, we must rise up, heartened in the knowledge that His Will is the only will, casting out the emotional oppression with faith ablaze.
When his very life was being threatened, Nehemiah responded with wisdom, outwitting his oppressors. Can we not also respond in the same manner? When the very fate of our spirits are threatened and goaded, we have every authority to pull upon the wisdom given us by the One from Whom it flows, allowing us the comprehension necessary for our next steps into blessed favor and sanctified security.
When Nehemiah faced trials and oppression, he didn’t stop, he didn’t question, he didn’t bow down to fear - he persisted, and in 52 days, the wall was complete. Even more, all the oppressors who once stood against him, now cowered at the realization of what Nehemiah knew all along: the Will of the Lord had been realized.
Sisters, brothers, friends, be emboldened! When we are walking in obedience down the path of the Lord’s will and find ourselves toe to toe with antagonism, we must gird ourselves with that holy defiance and blessed assurance, responding with wisdom and righteous rebuke. Take up arms, not the physical weaponry of Nehemiah’s time, but the Holy armor of God; stand with confidence, because even as the fight against us approaches, they could never stand a chance against the One who sent us.
Because, my friends, if God is for us, who dares to be against us?
Memory Verse: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 NIV
And, of course, this particular book addressed the root of the ick. I read and studied and prayed, devouring His Word and this anointed teaching, all the while feeling myself being drawn back into that secret place. The place where Jesus meets us so often, reigniting the doused flame and reaffirming our path to victory over our battle at hand.
I regained my joy, my peace, and my general sense of self, but I gained it in GREATER abundance. My laugh was genuine, my smile was a constant, my peace was wonderfully infectious, and my desire to be a living, breathing example of our Deliverer burned hotter than ever before.
I cried out for deliverance and He gave me more - He gave me the best version of myself, the version of myself that exists only in Him.
So, regardless of the current placement, timing, or general circumstances, He always answers, and does so with grandeur - doing, being, and giving the petitions of our hearts, but doing so exceedingly and abundantly above any perceivable possibilities.
Always doing it in a way that only He can, for HIS glory.
In Judges 6 and 7, the Israelites had once more done evil in the sight of the Lord and were given into the hands of the Midianites, living impoverished and ransacked, to the point where they could only cry out to the Lord for help.
While Gideon was threshing wheat, his daily work, the Angel of the Lord approached him with an answer to the Israelites’ cries - an answer that I’m certain was exceedingly above what Gideon, or any of the Israelites, had envisioned.
The Angel, anointing him with the power and might of God, relayed to him the charge from the Lord to lead the Israelites in battle to defeat their oppressors.
But, he could only do it with 300 men.
300 men against the vast Midianite army.
Almost laughable odds.
But friends, how many times has the Lord defied all the odds, answered your cries, or delivered to you the very desires of your heart in a way that only He could, with and by the means that only He can provide? How many times has He done MORE than what we ask?
With only 300 men, the Midianites were defeated. With old age, new life was created (Genesis 15). In the wake of a mighty sea, waters were parted (Ex. 14:21). With faith the size of a mustard seed, mountains move (Luke 17:6).
And with a single desperate plea, in an ordinary moment, He delivered me.
So, friends, do not grow weary in presenting your hearts before the Lord. Do not grow weary in listening for and heeding the answers He gives. Persevere in faith, with wholly expectation, because when He does answer, He’ll do it in the way that only He can— giving, doing, and being exceedingly more than we can begin to imagine.
Memory Verse: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV
Even at my young age, I realized that what I had at my disposal was more than enough. I carried that daily habit with me into adulthood. Only now, my understanding of the meaning of the Armor has deepened. If you’re not familiar with the Armor of God, Paul addresses it in Ephesians 6.
Similar to the way my mother did for me, he reminds them to “be strong in the Lord and His mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10) by way of putting on the full armor they’ve been given by God. He describes the battles we face, raged by spiritual forces, not that of flesh and blood. As Paul penned these words from prison, he was inspired by the Roman guard’s uniform. He explains that through our God-given spiritual armor, we have every device to ward off any and all attacks:
The belt of truth
The breastplate of righteousness
The helmet of salvation
The shoes of peace
The shield of faith
The sword of the Word of God
It’s easy to forget that there is an invisible enemy working against us at all times. There are certainly times where it is more obvious, and others when it is not.
Friends, we must don our armor daily so that our stance is unshakeable. God has given us everything we need for protection. When the principalities of this fleshly world seem to overwhelm you, pick up your shield of faith. When the unrest and chaos of daily life tries to creep in, slide on your shoes of peace. When the temptations of the enemy present themselves, put into place your breastplate of righteousness.
When we can’t see past the dark, and eerie silence surrounds us, we can stand in the confidence that God is for us. Begin, today, to make a daily habit of putting on the armor that’s been provided, and then— walking in it.
Whatever battle you are facing, stand tall, fully armored, and unafraid. There is not a single device of the enemy that can penetrate the Holy Armor of God.
Memory Verse: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
As hesitant as I am to admit, this charge from the Lord scared the living daylights out of me. After we had had time to process what the Lord had spoken to us, I couldn’t help but ponder on the instrumental role that Ananias had played in Paul's story.
Acts 9 tells us that Saul had been persecuting Jews, killing them, and doing so in the name of the Lord. However, the Lord intervened and spoke to Saul on his way to Damascus. He convicted him of the persecution of His people and, leaving him blind, instructed him to enter Damascus. There, the Lord spoke to Ananias regarding Saul. Ananias was a man that, before that day, Saul would have persecuted and killed had he had the chance. The Lord instructed Ananias to go and to lay hands on Saul, restoring his sight so that the Lord could use him to proclaim His very name to the Gentiles.
Ananias protested at first, and secretly, I’m pleased that he did! After all, Saul was responsible for the deaths of many who shared his own prerogative. Yet, Ananias was steadfast, and obedient to the charge of the Lord. Because of his obedience, another was saved — Saul, who would become Paul. Ananias took hold of what the Lord instructed him, and a movement was set into motion. The works of the Kingdom followed swiftly as Saul took on a new purpose.
With great obedience comes great reward, not just for ourselves, but for those around us. I was reminded that to walk into the proclamation the Lord had spoken over us, would mean that so many others would come to know our Savior as we did.
Is there something God has asked you to do, but you’re frozen in fear today? Maybe it’s changing your career, starting a ministry, or sacrificing part of your weekend to help someone in need.
Jesus is inviting us to take part in His great mission. We will never know how much hangs in the balance of our obedience (or lack thereof). Imagine if Ananias had responded to the Lord with “no.”
If we, as His disciples, remain obedient and ready ourselves, how much more can be done for the Kingdom? Let’s set our minds on obedience to Christ’s mission to “go and make disciples of all nations”. The benefit to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as the Kingdom, is endless.
Memory Verse: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19 (NIV)
This faith-testing season of hardship felt like an inescapable fire. It reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s much more literal scenario.
In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar decreed for all under his command to kneel and worship the false god he had created. Any who refused would suffer death by the fiery furnace. Now, there were three Jews - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - who refused to bow down to the false god because of their faith. Despite his admiration for the three servants, the King wasted no time demanding they be bound and thrown in. The fire was so hot that it killed the guards who threw them in.
However, the King had to check his eyes when he saw them unbound and walking freely within the fire. Not only that, but there was clearly another man in the fire with them, who resembled the Son of God. King Nebuchadnezzar called them out of the furnace, and they stood before him unscathed. They didn’t smell of smoke, and not even a single hair on their heads was frayed.
Though they walked through this fire, that had been set to burn seven times hotter than usual, they came out untouched by the flames. There, in the fire, they had experienced what few others had before— the physical presence of the Lord.
As Christ-followers, when we’re faced with our own fiery furnaces, we can be reminded that we are never alone. There is always Another in the fire with us, guiding us, hearing us, and protecting us. When we find ourselves toe-to-toe with the challenges of life, there stands a holy comfort in knowing that we can hold unswervingly to the hand of Jesus.
Friend, does life lately feel like a furnace? Rest in the comfort of knowing there is no fire that can stop the very presence of Jesus. He is with you, whether you see it right now or not. He is working on your behalf, and you will come out the other side not even smelling of smoke.
We can know, standing in unshakeable faith, that the fires of this life are, undoubtedly, no match for the God we serve.
If we’ll allow Him, God is always faithful to remind us. In my struggle, He brought to mind a people who had suffered far greater on their journey through the wilderness. In Exodus 32 and 33, the Israelites were in the waiting of a promise that God had given them – to be delivered into a land flowing with milk and honey. They had been promised their rainbow after the storm of generations of slavery, just as I had been promised a life-bearing womb.
However, in their long wait for Moses to come down from the mountain, they grew impatient, turning away from THE God and turning to false ‘gods’ to worship. They had momentarily lost their faith and spiritual sight, which, in turn, caused a domino effect of confusion, turmoil, and hardship.
Have you ever been so caught up in waiting for a promise that you lose sight of the Promise Maker? Have you ever become so impatient that you turn to physical means to try and make it happen?
When our spiritual eyes become muddied and our patience tested, it becomes easier to look to the visible false gods around us, and rely on the false hope they bring. It’s easy to forget Who it is that made us these promises in the first place.
Hebrews 10:23 tells us to hold “unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). What is forever humbling about our Promise Maker in Heaven, is that He is also very much the Promise Keeper. Not even once has He spoken a word that He has not also brought into fruition.
In our waiting, hoping, and bold expectation, God answered. After what seemed like an eternity of ups and downs, our promise was abundantly filled. In June of 2020 we welcomed our sweet baby boy, Matthew. That, my friends, is nothing but another miraculous testament to the faithfulness of the Promise Keeper we serve.
Devotionals by Author
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