Tag Archives: discouraged

Silent Lambs

She’s not how she used to be.  Once vibrant and bright, she’s faded and silent.  What happened to her?

Look at him.  Used to be, you could feel the atmosphere changing when he walked in the room but now he’s barely noticed, blending in with everyone else. What happened to him?

Observe yourself.  Do you have the same spiritual vitality you did 20 years ago…one year ago? What happened to you?

Life deals some hard punches.  When starting out on our Christian journey we feel our feet barely touch the ground. We have to share positive words and smiles because we’re overflowing with what God has done for us and it’s impossible not to share it.  As we deal more and more with reality our once brave, bright light dulls when it’s exposed to the struggles and pain of the world around us.  We relentlessly pursue closer walks with God to survive the hardships of life trying our best not to conform and through it, we find we sometimes lose our voice.  We find our countenance changes with the weight of the crosses we carry.  The lambs sometimes go silent.

Go to the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon after the church hour and watch.  The retail world says we are some of the rudest, most inconsiderate customers.  The opposite should be true. When we leave the parking lot of the church often we forget our mission and purpose. We’re supposed to make our corners brighter and better, not darker and colder. What happened to us?

We’re heavy-laden with our burdens sometimes not seeing or thinking of anyone or anything other than what’s going on with us.

That’s the enemy’s mission and we’re falling for it. Perhaps that’s the purpose of what we’re going through at this moment: to shut us up; to rob us of our joy, our content countenance and our desire to show love and kindness wherever we are.

Let’s choose not to be silent today.  Let’s ask God and believe Him, regardless of our circumstances, for strength, outward joy and be who He’s called us to be wherever we are, what we’re going through regardless of the discontentment around us.  Remember?  We’re strategically endowed with a Spirit who is greater than anything or anyone we face.  We’re where we are for a divine purpose and if our Spirits are silent and we look and act like the lost around us, what good are we?

Psalm 39:2 “I was mute and silent, I refrained [even] from good, and my sorrow grew worse.”

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A ‘BUT’ Kind of Faith.

Luke 5:1-11.

Everyone else was asleep while they worked.  Seasoned fishermen knew this could well be a catch to remember. The weather and the conditions of the water were absolutely perfect for fish and lots of them.  Out they went, full of anticipation of the catch they would harvest.

They were in their boats all night and didn’t catch one single fish, not even one suitable for bait.  They were stunned, disappointed to say the least and maybe even a little mad.  They couldn’t believe it.  Everything was perfect, how could they have been so wrong?

Have you ever been there?  You knew in your gut you did everything right – you prayed, planned and made provision for that one thing that could well have been your last step, the provision for your upcoming winter season.  You were ready, excited and believing not only yourself, but GOD that this was your moment…only to have absolutely nothing to show for your efforts.

So there you are, like Peter and his buddies, on the shoreline, tired, disappointed, washing dirty nets, with no result to show for your effort.  Should they quit fishing?  Would you?

Sometimes despite our best efforts, even after we’ve sought God’s will and His blessing even in the area(s) we are really, really good at, things don’t turn out like we expect them to.  I believe these things have two purposes:  1) to teach us our ‘good catches’ don’t come from our own hands and 2) just because we think we know everything there is to know, do everything right and by the book, that doesn’t ensure perfect results.

 

Peter was an expert fisherman making his living fishing. He probably knew everything about where he was fishing and all the signs to look for before he sat out that night.  He had it going on where his craft was concerned, yet he caught nothing. There he was, on the shoreline, cleaning his nets of everything that accumulated in them – less fish – which had to sting a little – a hands-on reminder that perhaps he didn’t know as much as he thought he did, his all-night effort for nothing, or a combination of both.

Then Jesus shows up, gets in his boat to preach and after He’s finished, tells Peter to set out again and this time, go to the DEEP water.

Peter had two choices. He could have presented a viable argument to Jesus – “Look I’m a fisherman – fishing is what I do. I make my living fishing.  In addition to that, I’ve been out there all dadgum night and caught nothing; nada.  To go back out, and to the deep no less, is…well…it makes no sense.” Instead, as tired and discouraged as he undoubtedly was, he decided to do what Jesus told him to.  The end result changed Peter’s life forever.

What will we do?

  • I lost my temper today and had every right to BUT because you say it’s right, I’ll apologize.
  • Had my heart broken so many times by people I thought I could trust and depend on BUT because You say so, Lord, I will forgive and even bless them.
  • I did my very best at my job, everything I was asked and more, but didn’t get the promotion BUT because You say I should, I will keep on doing my best.

Do you dare trust God one more time?  Do you dare allow His word to supersede even your best judgment and experience?  Do you dare say, “BUT I will do as You say…”?

Disappointments in life will surely come, even to those who have never experienced them.  That’s no time to quit or not believe in what is possible through the One who loves us the most, the One who wants more than anything to show us He has your best interest in mind, even when He allows things to come our way which He knows will deeply hurt and disappoint us.  Do we have a ‘but’ kind of faith? Let’s do, just because He says so and see what happens.

“But when Simon Peter saw that he fell down at Jesus’ feet saying “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord! For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken.”  Luke 5:8, 9

May the ‘nets’ of our hearts be as full of hope and amazement as those boats were of fish that day.

 

The Giant in the Mirror

There she is again.  Every time something goes wrong, even with something goes right, this wicked monster is the first to cast stones.  She’s quick to remind me of everything I’ve ever done wrong.  Every day, I must contend with her.

Every day, she reminds me of how weak and beaten up I am and all I’ve been through.  Minute by minute if I listen to her, I’m reminded of why I shouldn’t try, why I shouldn’t believe for better and should quit while I’m ahead.  With every new day, the old stares me in the face – if I focus on her long enough, her voice overpowers the God in me.

Perhaps the most important choice is at the beginning of the day, deciding who you’re going to listen to.  The giant doesn’t lie, she tells the truth…her version of it, anyway.

She wants to keep my focus on the past and all the pain affiliated with it.  She needs an excuse to make no effort.  Not because she doesn’t believe (she does – she knows God) but because she does and she knows if I choose not to listen to her (myself) and heed His word and His truth instead, efforts must be made, exercises in faith and trust must ensue.  She’s tired.  She’s weary and she’s discouraged.  She finds very little reason to believe a single word she says or trust even a fleeting thought of hope.  It’s all justified.  Just like a victim seeking revenge on her assailant, her actions would be righteously justified.

Here’s the thing, though.  She’s submitted to God so her right to herself has been relinquished to His right to her.  Her own actions to justify herself are null and void…She’s put her trust and heart into the hands of a Mighty Savior who has already won the battle with the giant of herself.  All she has to do is believe it.  She knows she’s no match for fighting the giant but she’s sure her Jesus is more than capable for the battle of the day.  It’s not her strength against who she sees (and remembers) in that mirror that will have victory this day; it’s His.

Every single day, the choice is ours.  Who will lead you?  Who will you listen to?  Who will you believe?  Yourself or Your King?  The battle is won or lost with that one decision.  The truth is, we may have to make that decision on a minute by minute basis. It won’t be easy (the past will attempt to discourage); it won’t be fun (fighting ourselves is ugly and messy) but we will be victorious  against our giants if we choose to fight with all of our armor on – trusting Him with everything they throw at us.  Are you in?

“…even if our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”  1st John 3:20 NLT

I’m Positive: I Don’t Know.

 

Good job: gone.  Money:  nonexistent.  Friends:  nowhere.  Money:  none. Refrigerator:  empty.  Eviction notice:  served.  Diagnosis:  terminal.

Lying awake night after night, praying, crying, begging God to help.  Nothing.  The next day is like the last day, spent in the grasp of fear and anxiety.

What do you do when you’re clinging to God with every breath, and He’s silent?  He has certainly not responded like you thought He would…like you think He should. Getting out of bed to do it all again seems unappealing.  Why? Just another day of failure, fear and discouragement.  Why even try, you ask yourself. Isn’t there a story in the Bible where Job’s wife told him, “curse God and die…”?  Maybe that’s the answer.  You tried everything else and it appears that you’ve failed.

There’s some fierce battling going on here.  On days, in situations like that the only thing to do is go on His say-so.  You must muster up enough faith in the Lord to try to convince yourself…despite whatever circumstance…that He is true to His word.  This is a battle for your faith.  The enemy knows what’s inside you and he’s (I believe) concerned that you’ll have an impact in the future so he must defeat you now – he’s aiming for you and this time his aim was very good.  You’re down and your faith is almost nonexistent.  Thus the decision.

Believe that God hasn’t left you.  Believe He’s faithful and His promises are applicable to you, personally.  Believe He will see you through.  How will He do it?  I have no idea.  What will He do to help you?  I don’t know.  I just know He will.  “Lord, because You say you’re with me, You’ll provide for me and will never leave me, I’m getting up out of bed.”  Sometimes we have no other reason other than that to start a new day.  This is faith.

Countless, the times in the past two years I’ve done just that.  I couldn’t see how I would live through the day (wasn’t real sure I wanted to), but I did…by His grace alone.  I could tell you story after story of how He has provided – it hasn’t been pretty and lots of it I didn’t like but He did. Through that, I have seen Him as never before…and I know Him better than I ever have.

How will he help you?  I’m positive of one thing:  I have no idea.  But.  I know He will.

~Philippians 4:19~

The Third Day

Your battle’s been long. Day after day, you rise praying for a change and a “better” but it still looks and feels the same. You’re tired.  The facts say this is the way it’s going to be. It is what it is, despite your best efforts. Discouragement has crept in and depression isn’t far behind. You tell yourself you may as well settle in and try to become okay with it because it’s never going to change for the better. You’ve given it your best shot; now it’s time to learn to live with it.

The disciples felt the same way.  Walking on that road to Emmaus they reminisced over all they had been taught and heard from Jesus.  They gave up everything to follow Him only to watch Him be captured and killed.  He’s dead.  They’d seen Him die, they probably witnessed His cold body be wrapped in death linens and placed in a tomb.  Gone.  Buried.  What are they supposed to do with that harsh truth?  That was the truth, you know.  They were grieved and perhaps decided to go back to their pre-Jesus lives. It appeared to be over so they scattered and went on.

Wait.

They forgot the rest of the story.  In their grief, fear and despair, they forgot the truth…HIS truth…that yes, He would be crucified, killed and buried BUT He would rise again. At that moment on the road, though, their confusion and grief was all they could see and feel.  It had been three days, too long a period of time to really hope for a change.

Is it your third day?  Are you loosening the grip on your hope? Sometimes the truth of the situation trips us up and we fight the thing which causes our grip on God to weaken. The circumstances are real and we demand God show up and rescue us. Perhaps we’re looking more for a thing rather than the Person.  Oswald Chambers makes a profound statement which says “the purpose of prayer isn’t to get an answer, it’s to get hold of God”. In times of desperation and depression, that “mission” evades us – we’re so focused on our need we’re sometimes more desperate for an answer or remedy than we are for Him when, in fact, He is the answer!

Third days are hard. Our faith erodes and we’re finding ourselves in a weakened state physically, mentally and spiritually.  What do we do? Hang on.  Start speaking “the other” truths to yourself and remember, HIS WORD is just as much truth as the situation we find ourselves in.  Start believing (even though it appears to be ridiculous) what He said.  Convince yourself that no matter if everything looks dead, He’s not.  He is hope.  He is peace, comfort, and He has promised to provide.  He’s promised to never leave or forsake us.  He’s in that third day place with us.

The critical choice is whether we choose to have hope in Him or not. Jesus had the ultimate third day. He proved Himself to be who He said He was.  He will do the same in your third day.  Only believe.

Luke 24:21

Never Stop

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Unconventional blessing!

We have our ideas, even plans, of what we think our lives will be like, what should happen and when, then when things don’t go as we expect, we think we’re cursed, wrong and finished.

We think God has let us down, allowing us to be disappointed, heartbroken and discouraged. We may even think He’s failed us. What if the opposite were true?

What if He wants to surprise you? What if those often quoted words in scripture, Isaiah 55:9 (For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts) are true to the extreme?

We expect God to act like we would and when He doesn’t it blows us away.  What if He’s busy in a way you can’t even fathom? If you don’t see Him or feel Him, don’t stop expecting Him or anticipating seeing Him work on your behalf. Why is it we allow disappointment and disbelief to so easily invade us?

Our Father-God is creative beyond what we can imagine.  If we will simply believe even when everything we see and feel says to do otherwise, He will come through. It may not be the way we think He should.  Sometimes I think He wants to see the element of surprise on our faces – sometimes it takes a “higher way” so we can know without a doubt that only God can pull it off!

The picture above is a picture of an old car.  I had car trouble a while back and was fretting and praying about how I was going to get us to work, we needed a car and I knew God knew that.  Just climbing back from a devastating year when my income plummeted, I just had enough to pay the bills.  Daily, many times a day, I would “cast my anxiety upon the Lord” because I believed He cared for me and would provide the transportation we needed.  I tried to keep walking absolutely believing in Him and that He would provide.  We took the city bus, and my wonderful employer adjusted my schedule so I could work during their operating hours.  I was good with that, God provided.  Then seemingly out of nowhere, some friends called and said the Lord had laid it on their hearts to GIVE me this car.  I was astounded.  Didn’t see that coming! It’s not a pretty car, and it doesn’t look like a blessing but through my friends, God provided what we NEEDED.  “higher than your ways…” –

Yes Sir.  Much higher.  Blessings often don’t look like blessings at all, but if you’re looking for God in EVERYTHING (to provide your NEEDS) we will always see Him and He and His blessings may not look like the God we have in our conventional box.  Even when you’re disappointed and discouraged, never ever stop believing He is right there with you, and in HIS TIME you will see Him.  Never stop looking!

All The Way Home

As is so often the case, Sampson wanted to carry something with him when we walk this morning.  Today it was his new bear.  Predictably the first time he stopped for a “tinkle break”, he dropped the bear and left him laying there.  Mind you, he wouldn’t leave the house without it, had to have it go with him, and at the first scent of something else, the bear was forgotten.  Many times I have had to retrace our steps to find what he has discarded along the way.

He started out all about that bear, so excited to take it with him. I would take it away and he would go back to get it.  I knew I would end up carrying it and sure enough, that’s what happened.  2015-10-31 08.26.25

We start out motivated and excited about something new and before long, it’s tossed to the side for one reason or another – it wasn’t what we thought it would be, not as much fun as we thought it should be, or we just lose interest.  What seemed so important sometimes soon becomes a memory.

Sometimes our walk with God is the same way.  We start out so strong and so passionate to live our lives for Him.  We know He’s allowed things in our lives so that we can tell others what He has done for us and we’re quick to do that at first, but when things get hard and life gets mundane, we sometimes lose that passion.  When we’re hurt, disappointed, disheartened or devastated it isn’t so easy to praise and testify is it?  When life throws us a curve and we’re in the thick of trying to survive we may be tempted to “lay down” our witness and forget to pick it back up again.  We also know there are things we have been gifted to do but we sometimes get busy and become distracted and those things get pushed to the background.

I look back at recent events in my own life and sometimes I don’t see any semblance of me at all.  Where’s my praise and adoration?  Where are those stories I’m supposed to be writing?  Where’s my passion?  Sometimes, we just feel whipped and discouraged.

When I picked up the bear this morning, my Spirit in me said, “You have to carry it all the way home; you must finish strong.”

We all have dropped a few “bears” along the way.  We’ve lost some because we were just too tired and weary to pick them up again or we simply didn’t go looking for what we had dropped.  We knew they were out there somewhere but for whatever reason we didn’t even look for them.  Life has a way of sucking life out of us.

Whatever God has given us to do, let’s keep doing it until we’re “home”.  Let’s keep loving people and showing His love to people (the number one thing).  Let’s decide to do good when things are going bad. Let’s decide to believe God regardless of what we see and hear.  Let’s smile through the tears and make it about someone else and making them feel better.  Let’s keep walking and carry on, all the way home.  Let’s bless regardless of what we are feeling or thinking.  If you’re gifted to sing then sing; laugh then laugh; preach then preach; write then write; teach then teach…you get the picture.

Whatever God has given you, if you have laid it down (for whatever reason) go pick it up and carry it all the way home.

Galatians 6:9