Remind God (And Yourself) of His Promises

There are going to be times when we just don’t understand what is going on. There are going to be times when we are feeling overwhelmed by all the things. As I write this post, we are in the middle of a world-wide shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a historic, once in a lifetime tragedy. It’s lonely not being able to go out and see our friends and family. My girls are keeping busy with their school. They are having dance classes on the computer and we just learned that the rest of their competition season is cancelled. My husband has been working from home, taking over our master bedroom so that he can focus with everything else going on in the house around him. My pet care business has dried up completely.

It’s hard to see where God is taking us with so much strife surrounding us. There are people who have lost their livelihoods and businesses that have closed and will not reopen after this. People are hurting. Many across this country have died. It makes sense to run and hide in fear – like the Israelites did when they heard the report from the spies sent into the promised land. It feels impossible.

But, I believe that God has another plan!

Jehoshaphat is Surrounded

Check out 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat has become the King of Judah. We learn in chapter 19 that he took the time to clean up the idols and other things that had gotten in between God and the people. He organized leaders around him to help him carry the load…Then, just when things were starting to look good, they were surrounded by not just one enemy but three armies joined together to attack them!

Sounds familiar, right? Just when we think we have things figured out, here comes another catastrophe to knock us off our feet! I know I had a really great start this year. My pet care business picked up and I was earning more than last year, the girls homeschooling was on track for our best year yet. And then, along came a global pandemic. My clients scrambled to cancel. We scrambled to make sure we had enough supplies to hunker down in our homes for a while. And then, we waited. We tried to listen to our leaders and follow their instructions, but with so many conflicting messages it’s hard to know just what we should do!

Jehoshaphat’s Response

I am so grateful that God has provided an example for us in Jehoshaphat! So, what was Jehoshaphat’s response?

Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed. He went to God for help and ordered a nationwide fast. The country of Judah united in seeking God’s help—they came from all the cities of Judah to pray to God.

2 Chronicles 20: 2-4 (MSG)

Jehoshaphat was shaken. It’s okay to feel out of sorts, confused, or even overwhelmed at times. But, look at how he responded. He went to God and he lead the people to God as well. When we feel overwhelmed, our first step is to turn to God. Then, we need to bring others with us! So, how did Jehoshaphat approach God? Let’s read on…

Then Jehoshaphat took a position before the assembled people of Judah and Jerusalem at The Temple of God in front of the new courtyard and said, “O God, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven above and ruler of all kingdoms below? You hold all power and might in your fist—no one stands a chance against you! And didn’t you make the natives of this land leave as you brought your people Israel in, turning it over permanently to your people Israel, the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived here and built a holy house of worship to honor you, saying, ‘When the worst happens—whether war or flood or disease or famine—and we take our place before this Temple (we know you are personally present in this place!) and pray out our pain and trouble, we know that you will listen and give victory.’

2 Chronicles 20:5-9 (MSG)

Here, we see Jehoshaphat standing in front of the entire nation of Judah worshiping God for who He is and reminding God and the people of His promises to them! He praised God as the powerful ruler of all earth and heaven. Then, he listed the great things that God had done in the past – bringing them out of Egypt, providing for them through the wilderness years, driving out their enemies from the Promised Land… and then, he presented his problems and gave God the credit for the victory before it was delivered. And, God responded. He spoke through a prophet and told them that He would fight this battle for them. All they needed to do was to stand firm. So, Jehoshaphat and all the people praised God that day. They got up the next morning, dressed for battle, and headed down to confront their enemies. Jehoshaphat appointed a choir to lead them…

As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed. As Judah came up over the rise, looking into the wilderness for the horde of barbarians, they looked on a killing field of dead bodies—not a living soul among them. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to carry off the plunder they found more loot than they could carry off—equipment, clothing, valuables. It took three days to cart it away! On the fourth day they came together at the Valley of Blessing (Beracah) and blessed God (that’s how it got the name, Valley of Blessing).

2 Chronicles 20:22-26 (MSG)

God Of The Impossible

You see, we serve a God who is bigger than all of our problems. He is stronger than all of our enemies – even when they team up against us! Nothing is impossible with God! Ask Him what He wants you to do, lay out your concerns before Him, and then pour out your heart in worship as you obey his direction. Sometimes, you will need to stand firm, other times you will be given a task to complete. Whatever He tells you, be obedient. Then, sit back and watch God do what He does best – THE IMPOSSIBLE!

I have been pondering this thought from a devotional book I have been reading lately…

What things are possible for you today through faith? All things are possible, because your faith is in the God who knows no impossibilities.

Roy Lessin, Because of Jesus, Today is Your Best Day: Devotions to Fill Your Heart with Hope. Copyright 2018.

God’s promises are certain. There is no chance of Him changing his mind or not being able to do what He has promised. He has backed them all to the hilt. He has taken great risk in allowing us to do his work and live out his promises. Claim them! Remind Him – the way a child who has been promised ice cream for completing a chore will remind you until you FINALLY give them ice cream! Over and over and over and over again, remind Him – and yourself – of His promises.

When things around you don’t make sense…GOD KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING.

When your resources don’t match your need…GOD IS YOUR PROVIDER.

When you are afraid to take the next step…GOD WILL NOT FAIL YOU.

When you are not sure what to do next…GOD WILL GUIDE YOU.

When you face the seemingly impossible…NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR THE LORD.

Give God Glory Anyway!

Things are crazy right now. Things that we have always taken for granted like well stocked grocery stores and all our favorite activities are proving to be unreliable in this time. As I write this, there is a pandemic affecting the entire world. All of our activities have been cancelled, the local school districts never went back after spring break, colleges are all online, and there was a crazy run on essentials like toilet paper. The only stores open are grocery stores, hardware stores, and restaurants able to sell take out. From a worldly perspective, things are looking pretty bleak.

But, the truth is, GOD IS IN CONTROL. He is always worthy of our praise and worship. His worthiness is not dependent on our present circumstances. His glory is not because of what He has done for us. Rather, He is worthy of all our praise and worship simply because of WHO HE IS! And, the more we seek Him and worship Him, the more we get to see of who He truly is. I like how Lisa Bevere expressed this concept.

“As we seek him, we find him. With this revelation we worship and declare he alone is holy, he alone is good, he alone is the way, the truth, and the life. He alone is the Most High God.”

Lisa Bevere, Without Rival

Throughout the Scriptures we see examples of people who chose to worship God despite their circumstances.

Job

Job is probably the most well known example of someone choosing to worship God in spite of the circumstances. The book opens up with Job, a righteous man learning that all of his children, his cattle and all his possessions had been killed by invaders. If I had received that kind of news, I don’t think I would have responded the way that Job did. Here’s how Job responded:

“Then Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head [in mourning for the children], and he fell to the ground and worshiped [God].

Job 1:20 (AMP)

Job mourned for his children. I would expect no less. He loved them. They were simply enjoying each other’s company and the many blessings they had when they were taken by surprise and killed. But, he didn’t stay in mourning. No, he mourned and he worshiped. You can do both! Job worshiped God in spite of his circumstances.

And, he continued to worship throughout the rest of the book as he is harassed by Satan over and over. He is inflicted with sores and illness. His wife turned against him. His friends, who were supposed to be there to help him, kept accusing him. But Job stood his ground. He knew that he had kept God’s commands and, yet, couldn’t understand why this was happening to him. Eventually, he called out to God himself. He took his questions to the source. And God answered him! As soon as he encountered God, he forgot about his troubles and began to praise God and all of His goodness.

Paul and Silas

In Acts 16 we see Paul and Silas on their way to the place of prayer in the temple. It was something they did most days. Along the way, a slave girl with psychic abilities kept calling everyone’s attention to them. Paul, who was annoyed with her, commanded the spirit to leave her. Her owners were upset because she could no longer make them money by telling fortunes so they attacked Paul and Silas. They were beaten and dragged out into the middle of the city where they were arrested and taken to court. They were then publicly beaten by the Roman leaders and thrown into prison in the most secure location with their legs chained to prevent their escape.

Paul and Silas could have been mad, or discouraged. But, instead, they chose to spend their time in prayer and singing a robust hymn to God! And God honored their worship in a mighty way! He caused an earthquake that knocked down the walls to the prison. But, none of the prisoners fled. As a result, Paul and Silas were given the opportunity to share the gospel with the jailer.

“Praise you in this storm”

As I close out this post, I have a song stuck in my head that I want to share with you. The words of the chorus are particularly applicable to this message…No matter what we are going through, praise him. Praise him because of who He is. Know that He has promised to never leave you and praise him. Below are the words to the chorus and the video for the song by Casting Crowns. I pray that these words will allow you to praise Him in the midst of the storm. Praise Him, in spite of the circumstances, because He Is Who He Is.

And I’ll praise you in this storm

And I will lift my hands

That you are who you are

No matter where I am

And every tear I’ve cried

You hold in your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise you in this storm

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Mark Hall / Bernie Herms
Praise You In This Storm lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management, Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group

God Is Not Afraid Of Your Questions!

There is so much going on in this fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, frustrated – even scared! Truth is, life is not always easy. I know I have felt this same way many times. Sometimes, I have jumped into a big project – even completed some of them! – only to have it fail…no one wants to read that ebook that I spent months creating, dinner burned while I was trying to fix someone’s bun for dance class and the pile in the room that needs to be sorted seems to grow by the day…It’s easy to feel defeated and just give up. Trying to do it all on our own is the wrong way to approach things! We just can’t. Thankfully, God has a better plan!

Ask Him!

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:5-8 (NIV)

You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.

1 Peter 1:17 (MSG)

You see, God knew that we as fallible humans could not possibly comprehend all that He had planned! He knew before He promised Abraham, that the Israelites, His chosen people, would reject Him and His Messiah. So, He promised to stick around and help when we ask. All we need to do is call Him and He will come running every time! It doesn’t matter whether our difficulty is our own fault or the result of a world-wide pandemic…He will always come to our rescue! All we need to do is ask. He even showed that the religious leaders were led astray because they were too proud to ask questions (Matthew 22:46 MSG)!

Moses

In Exodus 5, we see Moses confronting Pharoah and, as God had said, Pharoah didn’t like it. He wound up making things even harder for Israel. So the people complained to Moses. Moses was still unsure of himself, unsure of his calling. So, he went to God and complained – Why did He even send him? It must have been confusing and overwhelming for him. He’d already failed – killing a man and running away – and now, the people weren’t sure they were ready to follow him…

But, you know what God did? He listened. And He responded to Moses! In Exodus 6 we see God’s response. He said, “Just wait, I’m going to win! Tell the people who I AM! I AM GOD! The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am the Strong God, I AM Present. Tell them, I am God. I hear you. I will redeem you. You are mine. And he tells us the same things today!

In Exodus 33:12-14, Moses was pretty blunt in his questions for God! He told God that He NEEDED to tell him what the plans were! He wanted more. He pointed out exactly what he needed – he needed to know where he was going in order to lead others. God’s response is priceless – “I’ll go with you!” And then He allowed Moses to see a small part of Him.

Several years ago, our family was taking a road trip to Disneyland. We were going to celebrate one of our daughters’ birthdays, but we didn’t tell them where we were going. We just had them both pack up clothes and loaded up the car. We kept telling them we were just going for a drive! They believed us for a while because we often did that. But, somewhere around dinner time they started wondering when we were going to be heading home. And, then we stopped at a hotel. They knew we were up to something, but we still wouldn’t tell them! It’s kinda fun to mess with your kids sometimes…Can’t you just see God here? He was not going to tell Moses what he wanted. Instead, He provided what Moses truly needed – to see God more clearly!

You see, God always knows exactly what we truly need! Sometimes what we think we need will only lead us off in the wrong direction. He will always provide us with what we need when we ask for help. Don’t ever be afraid to ask God your questions, just be prepared for an unexpected answer that is EXACTLY what you needed to hear or see. And like Moses, what we all truly need is to see Him more clearly!

When We Feel Alone

Feeling alone? The COVID 19 Stay Home Orders across the country (and even the world!) can surely leaves all of us feeling a little bit alone! Maybe you have lost your job on top of all the sudden change and isolation. It’s understandable to think that things are worse than you’ve ever imagined. But, I want you to know that there is hope. You are not alone.

Come back in history with me….

Jesus is on the Cross. Just a week ago, the streets were lined with masses of people proclaiming that He was the long awaited Messiah. His disciples, who had spent every moment with him over the past 3 years, proclaimed their loyalty at their celebration of the Passover. It would be only a few hours later that every one of them would run in fear, some even out right betraying Him. Now, it’s Friday night, the start of the Passover Sabbath. As He looks down on the people gathered to watch him die, he must have realized that He was all alone. His friends, His followers, His family all gone. In anguish, He cries out in pain the words from Psalm 22, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”

In the morning, the smoke would clear a little for the Disciples. They would learn the location of His burial, but, because of the Jewish requirements for the Sabbath, they could not grieve. They could not ensure a proper burial until after the Sabbath was completed. These 12 men had given up everything to follow Jesus – careers, family, political connections – EVERYTHING! And now, He was not only dead, but He had died in a very public and humiliating manner. AND THEY COULD DO NOTHING…Nothing but REST. They were alone, trying to process something that they had no way of understanding…

Psalm 22 was written by David during the time when He was alone and isolated, fleeing from King Saul. It gives us a powerful pattern of how David ran to God in times of trouble that we can apply to our lives today.

Be honest with God about how you are feeling

God is not afraid of our questions. He knows that our minds are limited and cannot comprehend all the things that He does. If we ask for help, He will help us.

James 1:5-8 (MSG)

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

1 Peter 1:17

You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.

Give God glory anyway

He is worthy of worhsip regardless of our circumstances. When we focus on who God is, our perspective shifts – even if our situation doesn’t.

Revelation 4:11b

Worthy, O Master! Yes, our God!
Take the glory! the honor! the power!
You created it all;
It was created because you wanted it

Remind God (and yourself) of His promises

Over and over agin in Psalm 22 David declares – “I know who you are. And since you are always true to character, deliver me like you delivered your people.” And then, he proceded to REMIND GOD of all the great things He did for Israel. David knew what God was capable of and He kept asking God to do it again!

So, in this time of isolation, take some time to step back and rest. Ask God your questions. Listen to His answers and be obedient to do what He says. And, give God ALL THE GLORY ANYWAY! It may not be easy. Who knows when we will be able to buy toilet paper again! But, if God can sustain the entire multitude of the nation of Israel for 40 plus years through the desert, surely He can supply our needs now – even in the midst of a pandemic. Remind Him of the great things He has done. Quote the Scriptures, list the blessings from your own life.