RSS Feed

Friday, April 28, 2023

Three Ways to Follow God Through Difficulties

In John 16:33 I read, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

In the past few days, I've been looking at and learning how God takes me through the Six Phases of Faith—a dream, decision, delay, difficulty, dead end, and deliverance, to grow my faith and to develop my character.

The fourth phase God uses to grow my faith is when I encounter difficulties on the journey toward my dream. These difficulties are tests, giving me a chance to follow God’s guidance.

In Acts 27, Paul set sail for Rome along with other prisoners on a journey with many difficulties. On one leg of the voyage, Paul warned the crew that if they continued to sail, they would be caught in a major storm and the results would be disastrous. The crew decided to sail anyway.

To avoid the mistakes the crew made—and to faithfully follow God instead—here are three things to remember when I’m facing difficulties:

Follow God, not others’ opinions. On Paul’s journey, “the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship” (Acts 27:11 NIV). Because the “expert” said it was okay, the centurion ignored a warning from God and agreed to head back out to sea

If God tells me to do one thing and all the experts in the world tell me to do something else, listen to what God says. His voice is the only one that counts

Follow God, not the majority. On Paul’s ship, “the majority decided that [they] should sail on” (Acts 27:12 NIV). The harbor where Paul’s ship had taken refuge was exposed and not a good choice for spending the winter, and so the majority on board wanted to sail on. But the majority is often wrong

Peer pressure often keeps people from doing what God wants them to do. Remember that God is a majority of one.

Follow God, not my circumstances. “When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed . . . Before very long, a wind of hurricane force . . . swept down from the island” (Acts 27:13-14 NIV). Paul warned the others that they were heading into a storm, but they sailed anyway. 

Just because I’m given an opportunity, it doesn’t mean I have to take it. I shouldn’t accept every job I’m offered. Satan can arrange circumstances too! I need to ask God for his direction.

No matter what difficult circumstances I face in life, I can remain faithful by listening to what God says, remembering his voice is the only one that counts, and following his guidance. 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

In My Delay, Remember God’s Faithfulness

In Psalm 103:2 I read, “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” (NLT)

When my dreams are delayed, I tend to forget things. I forget what God has done in my life and his goodness in the past. I forget that God is with me. I forget God’s power that he uses to fulfill my dreams.

The Israelites made this same mistake in the wilderness: “They forgot the many times [God] showed them his love, and they rebelled against the Almighty at the Red Sea. But he saved them, as he had promised, in order to show his great power . . . But they quickly forgot what he had done and acted without waiting for his advice” (Psalm 106:7-8, 13 GNT). 

It’s unbelievable how short their memory was! In Egypt, God sent 10 plagues on the Egyptians just to rescue his people. But the children of Israel forgot about God’s actions just days later when they were at the Red Sea, saying, “We’re all going to die!” They forgot what God had done. 

Then, God miraculously opened the Red Sea, and they crossed it on dry land, but they forgot all about it just a few days later when they thought they would die of thirst. Then, God miraculously provided water in the desert, but they forgot all about it just a few days later when they thought they would die of starvation. 

They were constantly forgetting what God had done for them!

But I shouldn’t be too quick to judge them—because I do the exact same thing. When a delay occurs in my life, I start acting like God has never done anything for us. God has done things for me in the past. I can count on him to do more things for me tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

Instead of forgetting, I need to keep in mind and remember God’s promises. There are more than 7,000 of them in the Bible. Whenever I have a problem, find a promise like 2 Timothy 2:13: “Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, he remains faithful to us and will help us . . . and he will always carry out his promises to us” (TLB). God’s promises are always greater than the problems I’m facing!

If God hasn’t fulfilled a promise in my life, it could be because he’s waiting on me. He’s waiting on me to learn to not fear, not fret, not faint, not forget. He wants to develop me before he delivers me.

God could do things immediatelybut he’s working on a larger agenda. The delays that come in my life do not destroy God’s purpose. They fulfill it

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me” (Psalm 103:2 NLT).

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Don’t Settle for Less Than God’s Best

In Galatians 6:9 I'm reminded, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)

When I go through delays in life, don’t get discouraged. Don’t lose heart and don’t give up

The Israelites did, and it delayed their entrance into the Promised Land

Numbers 14:2-4 says, “All the Israelites grumbled against Moses . . . ‘If only we had died in Egypt! . . . We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt” (NIV). They gave up on their dream. They had been rescued after 400 years of slavery but then wanted to go back because they were being delayed

Like the Israelites, some people would rather live in slavery than face the fear of freedom. They are not willing to push through and work on the problem until they get it right. They want to give up. They settle for mediocrity in life.

Don’t settle for less than God’s best! If it means going through a tunnel of conflict, take it. In the middle of the tunnel, it will be dark, and I may even find myself wanting to run back to the light. But I’ve got to keep going until I come out on the other side into the light.

Instead of getting discouraged, learn to be persistent and pray

Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (NIV).

This is the law of the harvest: There is always a delay between sowing and reaping. You plant in one season, and you reap in another. God wants to see if I’m going to keep cultivating, planting, and sowing. If he sees consistency in my life, then the harvest will come. But it won’t come immediately, because if it did, there would be no chance for my character to grow or for my faith to be stretched

Luke 18:1 tells us that we “must always pray and never lose heart” (PHILLIPS).

I have two options in life: Pray continually, or lose heart. I will always be doing one or the other. If I pray continually, I will not be discouraged. If I don’t pray continually, I will lose heart. I will get discouraged by the problems I’m facing—whether they’re at work or at school or in my family. To stay encouraged, I‘ve got to keep on praying!

What do I pray for during the delay phases of life? Pray, “Help me hold on and not give up.” God will hear, and he will help. I am not alone, so I don’t have to get discouraged, even when I’m delayed.

It can be discouraging to continue to do right and receive no word of thanks or see any tangible results. Paul challenged the Galatians and myself, to keep on doing good and to trust God for the results. In due time, I will reap a harvest of blessings.

If things aren't’ happening on my timetable, it doesn't mean I should give up. I need to be diligent and have endurance. God provides encouragement, he knew what I would need today and provided it. So while the tunnel may seem dark, there is always light at the end. Perhaps it's right around the corner. I need to remind myself that I am known and loved by God. I have a purpose that only I can fulfill. Don't give in to the doubts that the enemy tries to fill my mind with. Don't give up, look to him for he will never give up on me.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Learning to Wait Patiently on God’s Timing

In Psalm 37:7-8 I read, “Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for him to act . . . Don’t fret and worry—it only leads to harm.” (TLB)

It’s frustrating when I'm in a hurry and God isn’t. And God is never in a hurry! 

The Bible says a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day to God. One of the most useless things to try to do is to speed up God. When I try to take matters into my own hands and help God out, I only get in trouble.

Proverbs 19:2 says, “Impatience will get you into trouble” (GNT).

When God gives me a dream and I make the decision to go for it, but then get forced into God’s waiting room, I may start trying to figure out ways of fulfilling God’s dream on my own, without his help

But the Bible says to trust God’s timing: “Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for him to act . . . Don’t fret and worry—it only leads to harm” (Psalm 37:7-8 TLB).

Resting is an act of faith. It means I’m waiting on God. 

One day Jesus and his disciples were in a boat caught in a raging storm. The Bible says the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. While the disciples were filled with fret and worry, Jesus had his head on a cushion and was sleeping through the storm. 

The disciples woke him up and asked, “Don’t you care if we drown? Save us!” It’s easy to imagine Jesus responding, “Do you think God is going to let the boat sink with me in it?” 

But, instead, Jesus spoke about the need for greater faith, and then he calmed the storm! The disciples had been worried about the wind and the waves, and Jesus showed them he had power over the wind, the waves, and any storms they would face in life.

When I get into a storm, I tend to fret and worry in the same way as the disciples. When I live like that, I’m not living by faith; I focus on the winds and the waves and not on the power and love of Jesus

Jesus is always with me, and I can always trust his timing. Worry only makes me miserable. If I’m delayed on the way to my dream, stop worrying and start trusting God to work in and through me.

Rest is not something that comes naturally to me when I’m trying to make something happen.  Because I’m not busy with activity, I feel guilty, like I should be doing something to help.

I need to remember that the delays are part of his training plan for me. It means that I need to stop and rely on him and not myself.  

As much as I want something to move quickly, especially when my heart is in it, I need to adjust my expectations on timing, and allow the Lord to do things in the process to prepare the task and me for what’s coming. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

When My Dream Gets Delayed, I Don’t Need to Fear

In Deuteronomy 8:2 I read, “Do you remember how the Lord led you through the wilderness for all those forty years, humbling you and testing you to find out how you would respond, and whether or not you would really obey him?” (TLB)

I’ve been looking at and learning how God takes me through the Six Phases of Faith—a dream, decision, delay, difficulty, dead end, and deliverance to grow my faith and develop my character.

The third phase is when I face delays. Dreams are never fulfilled immediately. There is always a waiting period

The Israelites were brought out of Egypt and then wandered around for 40 years before they went into the Promised Land, even though their journey shouldn’t have taken more than a few weeks. Just like the Israelites, sometimes I’m delayed by God’s design. Every dream has difficulties, and God uses delays to prepare me to face them

God also uses delays to test me. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 8:2, “Do you remember how the Lord led you through the wilderness for all those forty years, humbling you and testing you to find out how you would respond, and whether or not you would really obey him?” (TLB).

So when my dream is delayed, how should I respond?

Don’t fear!

Embracing fear is the first mistake the Israelites made. Deuteronomy 1:28 says, “Why should we go there? We are afraid. The men we sent tell us that the people there are stronger and taller than we are” (GNT). The Israelites had enough faith to move out of Egypt, but they didn’t have enough faith to move into the Promised Land. They were afraid

The problem with fear is that it keeps me in the wilderness. It prolongs the delay. Many of my dreams have never been fulfilled, not because of God but because I’m not stepping out in faith.

The antidote to fear is focusing on God’s presence. Remember that God is with me. He says, “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10 TLB). He’s with me now, he always has been, and he always will be.

God has not forgotten me. This delay is likely by design. God knows what I’m going through. He wants to build my character, and he wants me to learn to trust in him. I can count on him for his help

In summary, God leads me through the wilderness, humbling and testing me to prove my character, and to find out whether I will be obedient to him and his commands. If every prayer of mine was answered immediately, my faith would not be stretched or exercised. I'd have no need for faith. I know I don't like waiting, however I'm reminded this morning that life is full of waiting. Just like the Israelites, God wants to see what kind of faith I have. God uses delays to test me. I must realize that his timing is perfect, but his timetable won't match mine. When I get in a hurry, I tend to ask the "when" questions. I just need to be patient and obedient and have faith that God will word in my best interest. I may be in God's waiting room right now, but it is a necessary time of building my faith. I can know that while I'm waiting, God is working and he's working on me.