The Whirlwind of Life

She experienced a whirlwind of emotions.

She was a widow, with a son, in the middle of a famine. Provisions were almost expired; enough was left for one last meal. She was gathering the wood for the cooking fire when Elijah entered her life.

Elijah asked the widow to bring him a drink of water and a piece of bread. She responds in 1 Kings 17:12, “As surely as the Lord your God lives, I don’t have any bread, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son that we may eat it, and die.”

Can you imagine? The widow is in a desperate situation, and she may feel hopeless. But here comes hope.

Elijah encourages her to do as he has directed, and promises the Lord will continue her provisions until the end of the famine. 1 Kings 17:6 records the widow and her son having enough to survive until the famine ended. This storm ended, but another rain cloud was on the horizon.

Some time later her son died. Amid the storm, the widow went to Elijah so he could act on behalf of God. This would have been an emotionally draining whirlwind for the widow; hard times followed by okay times only to be replaced by hard times again. Sadness giving away to happiness only to be broken down by grief. The winds of life tossed and turned the widow.

Perhaps this sounds familiar to your experience. Don’t lose the big take-away of the widow’s story.

Her faith pushed her forward.

It was the widow’s faith which compelled her to feed Elijah and go to him upon the death of her son. Her faith steadied her as the winds swirled around her.

You and I have a friend in Jesus who sticks closer than a brother. His compassion wiped the tears of the widow and held the hand of the man with leprosy. His power was victorious over death. There’s nothing in life that is a match for him.

Allow the Lord to be a part of your storm today.

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Much out of Little

A flask of olive oil is all it took.

A widow was not sure what to do. She had bills to pay, and there was nothing in her home except a flask of olive oil and faith. Elisha told her to borrow some jars and fill them until she was out of olive oil.

2 Kings 4:5-6 says, “So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was filled to the rim. ‘Bring me another jar,’ she said to one of her sons. ‘There aren’t any more,’ he told her, and the olive oil stopped flowing.”

The widow reported the events to Elisha. He told her to sell the olive oil and pay her bills. There would be enough left over for her and her sons to live on.

When faith is calculated into an equation, much can come from little. We see this lived out here, and with the widow who had no food left talking to Elijah and Jesus feeding many people with one boy’s lunch. Much can come out of little when the Lord is at work.

The Lord can provide when bank balances seem low. He can help when the cash flow sheet is nearing red territory. When it seems there are no options, the Lord still knows what to do. He is in the business of doing the impossible.

How has the Lord come through for you? Be sure to thank him today, and maybe you’re still waiting on him to come through, don’t give up. He can make much come out of little.

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4 Characteristics Worthy of Modeling

He was never king, yet he left a mark in history.

Jonathan was King Saul’s oldest son, yet he was never king. He does not make it into a hall of fame, yet he was a good friend. He was not a star, yet he was respected. In many ways, Jonathan was just an ordinary person.

Jonathan’s life models 4 characteristics everyone should strive to possess.

1. Jonathan was humble.

Jonathan understood David would be a better king. He was willing to look past himself to the big picture. In humility, Jonathan was willing to place himself in second place. It has been said, “There are kings and kingmakers.” Jonathan was a kingmaker.

The kingmakers of the world understand they may not be the best fit for a position. They spend their time looking past themselves to the big picture rather than fussing and feuding trying to promote their own agenda. In humility, they realize their purpose is to make a king, not be a king.

2. Jonathan was a great friend.

Jonathan was a true friend to David.

  • He was loyal to David. When everyone else left David, Jonathan stuck by his side. Job 6:14 says friends should stay loyal even if a person forsakes the Lord.
  • He was willing to share in David’s burdens. Jonathan helped carry the weight of David’s circumstances. A good friend is willing to help carry another’s burden.
  • He encouraged David. Jonathan was willing to go to David and offer encouragement. Jonathan recognized a rough season in David’s life and encouraged him in that time.
  • Jonathan invested in David’s life. Jonathan stepped aside so David could be king. He gave something of his own to David.

3. Jonathan had faith which pushed him to action.

1 Samuel 14 records Jonathan’s daring plan to win a battle with the Philistines. Though outnumbered and overpowered, Jonathan’s faith pushed him to go forward.

Jonathan says in verse 6, “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans…. Perhaps the Lord will help us for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he was many warriors or only a few.” Jonathan was not afraid to step out in faith because he believed nothing was impossible for the Lord.

How would our goals and dreams change if we followed this example?

4. Jonathan showed undaunted courage.

The plan Jonathan devised took much courage to execute. He was outnumbered, and the Philistines had to see him. Climbing to the Philistines position required both hands and feet, so for a short period, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not able to defend themselves. To spite these dangers, Jonathan had the courage to move forward.

Jonathan’s courage came as a result of his faith. He knew nothing was impossible for the Lord.

Taking steps to fulfill dreams and achieve goals can be scary. Much courage may be required. We can find this courage in the Lord. If he is with us, there is no need to fear.

Jonathan certainly left his mark in history. His courage, faith, friendship, and humility are worthy of modeling.

 

back view of white dove perched on palm tree branch

Where is our trust?

Was Jesus the political leader for whom they were searching?

The streets were lined with crowds of people waiving palm branches. They were singing. The city was in an uproar of excitement. Jesus was entering, and the citizens believed he was going to be their political king. The people were overjoyed, and excitement was in the air. The next few days were going to be action packed, but not for the reasons the people were celebrating on this day.

Today is Palm Sunday. This is the start of Passion Week, the week leading up to the events of Easter. Where is our trust? It is a good question to answer today.

The Gospel writers record Jesus entering Jerusalem to much cheer and applause. The people thought Jesus was entering to overthrow Rome. They believed Jesus was going to be their political leader. He was the one who was going to establish a reign and replace Rome as the ruler. Jesus, however, had a more significant purpose.

The people misunderstood, and they placed their trust in the wrong place. They were looking for a political leader and missed the true mission of Jesus.

Psalm 118:8-9 proclaims, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”

Where is our trust today?

4 Lessons Learned from Moses’ Life

A life of overcoming barriers.

From beginning to end, Moses’ life was filled with barriers. Getting through each stage of his life required him to overcome a barrier.

Moses’ life teaches us 4 lessons we can apply to our lives.

1. Faithful parenting helps our kids.

Moses parents were up against it. Pharaoh issued a decree that any newborn Israelite boy was to be killed. They ignored the decree and were forced to make some hard choices. Keeping Moses hidden for 3 months, they decided to float him down the Nile. His parents reached a point where they had no choice but to pray and trust the Lord.

Lamentations 2:19 encourages, “Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer pleading for your children….”

Moses’ parents believed the Lord would care for their son. Being faithful parents can start our kids on the right path. We should follow the example of Moses’ parents.

Pray and trust the Lord. Seek his guidance in guiding our kids.

2. Patience is needed.

Moses had to develop the virtue of patience. He patiently endured the struggle of Israel wondering in the desert. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, and he desired to lead them into the promised land. However, their unfaithfulness resulted in desert wondering the rest of Moses’ life. It would have been easy for Moses to give up in this situation, yet he remained faithful.

Hebrews 10:36 says patient endurance is what we need right now. Life may be a struggle right now but pushing through today’s struggle will bring tomorrow’s reward.

Moses patiently endured his circumstances. He knew something better was ahead. Patient endurance will lead to a reward worth the wait.

3. Making right choices may be hard.

Moses went from somebody to nobody because it was the right thing to do.

“It was by faith, Moses, when he grew up refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Hebrews 11:24-26 records, “He chose to share the oppression of God’s people rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than own the treasures of Egypt. For he was looking ahead to his great reward.”

As we are working to fulfill our purpose, we may be forced to make hard choices. We may have to temporarily suspend some activities, spending, etc. This may be necessary to progress toward our goal.

We learn from Moses to focus on the future in these moments. Today’s struggles will bring tomorrow’s rewards.

4. God is magnified in our weakness.

In our society, weaknesses are viewed as a negative; however, God views them as an opportunity. His power is displayed in moments when we are weak.

Moses had a difficulty with speech. He stuttered, so he believed there was no way he could represent God. The Lord, on the other hand, knew Moses was the right person for the job. He reassured Moses and worked powerfully through him.

Perhaps we can relate to Moses. We have a weakness which we view as a stumbling block to serving. God, however, views it as an opportunity.

We can be encouraged by knowing God has a plan. In weakness, we cry out for help, and with power, God responds. He did for Moses. God provided Aaron as a spokesperson for Moses. Moses’ weaknesses did not prevent him from fulfilling his purpose, and our weaknesses will not prohibit us from completing our calling.

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Promises, Promises

Can we trust the Bible?

A preacher was visiting a couple parishioners, and the trio was reading the Bible. They came to Matthew 28:20 where Jesus says, “Surely, I will be with you to the very end of the age.”

The preacher asked, “Isn’t that a wonderful promise?”

“It’s not a promise. It’s a fact,” one of the parishioners replied.

Promises are made and broken in life. There are many reasons promises are broken; however, the Bible offers many promises which we can accept as fact. Being perfect, God always keeps his word.

Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.”

Looking through history, we find God keeping his word.

The people of Israel were promised land, and the Lord provided the land he promised. Generations passed from the time the promise was made until it was fulfilled, but God kept his word.

Joshua 21:43-45 states, “So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession and settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled. Everything he had spoken came true.”

We turn the pages of history to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. The angel promised the shepherds they would find a certain arrangement in the stable. They would find Mary, Joseph, and the baby, lying in a manger.

Luke 2:20 records, “The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”

God keeps his promises.

History proves God is faithful. The Lord keeps his promises. You and I can rest assured the promises made in the Bible will be fulfilled.

Christians are promised God will be with us in this life, and we will spend the next life in Heaven. And, we know the Lord keeps his word.

Acting

Spend time dwelling on the promises made by the Lord. Find hope and confidence in these promises.

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Confidence, Peace, & Promise

Psalm 91 offers encouragement in uncertain times.

Life is uncertain. We never know what tomorrow will bring. Thankfully, we are not alone. Psalm 91 offers confidence, peace and a promise.

Confidence

Verses 1-3 encourage, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: he alone is my refuge. My place of safety. He is my God and I trust him. For he will rescue you from any trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

Our confidence comes in trusting the Lord. He has our back, and he is going to protect us. Our confidence can give us peace.

Peace

Verses 5-6 say, “Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness nor the disaster that strikes at midday.”

Along with having confidence in the Lord, we can find peace in him. The Lord will help us through whatever life throws at us.

These verses do not mention specific adversities. As Christians, we can insert the difficulty which we are experiencing. Lost jobs, financial struggles, a struggling economy, and any other adversity can be inserted. The Lord will help us through it. You and I can find peace in the Lord’s promise.

Promise

“The Lord says,” records verses 14-16, “I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer. I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

The Lord’s promise is to anyone who trusts him.

As we face the uncertainty of today and the unknown of tomorrow, we can have confidence and peace because of the Lord’s promise.

 

 

Going through Hell?

“If you’re going through hell, keep on going. Don’t slow down. If you’re scared, don’t show it. You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.”

Songs have a way of encouraging us in the darkest, weirdest moments of life. The Lord uses lyrics to drive encouragement right into our hearts.

If You’re Going through Hell by Rodney Atkins is one of those encouraging songs. It reminds us to keep on moving through the hard times of life.

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If you’re going through a hard time, keep on moving. Don’t slow down. Unfortunately, hard times are a part of life. Difficulties have a way of creeping into life. Fortunately, they only last for a season, and it is a season the Lord is with us. We can keep moving during those times with the confidence the Lord is our shelter and refuge.

We may be scared, but the Lord says we can take courage because he is with us.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes,” encourages Ephesians 6:10-11.

4 Tips for Every Person’s Journey

A great leader listens to God’s tips.

Joshua was 85 years old when he became the leader of Israel. The first 85 years of Joshua’s life prepared him for this moment. He understood how difficult the Egyptian bondage was for the Israelites. He experienced the agonizing stress of wondering through the desert, and now it was time to go into the promised land. Joshua had been watching Moses lead, but now it was his time. It was his time to fulfill his purpose.

In Joshua’s commissioning, we find 4 tips for every Christian.

1. Timing is crucial.

Joshua had been with Israel in Egypt, through the desert, and was standing at the border of the promised land. Moses was the leader until it was time; time for Joshua to take the reigns and lead the people.

In Joshua 1:2, the Lord tells Joshua, “The time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into land I am giving them.”

Joshua started when it was time. In his Law of Timing, John Maxwell states Joshua assumed leadership at the proper time. Moses was a diplomatic leader, which is the leadership style the people needed in the desert. But on the border of Canaan, the needs of the people changed. They needed a fierce military style leader, which is Joshua. Timing is crucial in successfully fulfilling our purpose.

You and I have goals, dreams, and a purpose, and to be successful, we must be sensitive to the Lord’s timing.

If our goal is writing a book, we don’t want to jump ahead and push it to publication before it is ready. If our dream is to run a marathon, we need to properly train before entering the race. If we believe our purpose is to be a leader, we shouldn’t form an undercurrent to take out those in our way. We should wait on the Lord to open the opportunity. Timing is important.

There’s a proper time for every activity, so we should be ready when it’s time. Meanwhile, you and I should patiently prepare for our time to move.

2. The Lord is with us.

Joshua was reminded the Lord is right beside him.

The Lord says in Joshua 1:5, “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live for, I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.”

The Lord goes on in verse 9, “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

God had Joshua’s back. He was there to help Joshua overcome the barriers standing in his way. Joshua could count on the Lord.

God has our back, and he is with you and me as well. He will go with us and help overcome the barriers that stand in the way. We can count on the Lord.

3. Be strong and courageous.

Joshua 1:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. For you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.”

The Lord promised to be with Joshua, then challenged him to be strong and courageous. Joshua was the one who would fulfill his purpose. No one else was going to lead the people. No one else was going to lead the charge to possess the land. Joshua was the one. He could be strong and courageous in the Lord.

The Lord has promised us he will be right beside us, and he is challenging us to be strong and courageous. No one else is going to fulfill our calling. Our goals, dreams, and purpose are unique to us. The Lord has a plan for our lives, and we can be strong and courageous in him.

“This is my command: be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” says the Lord in Joshua 1:9.

4. Remember the word of God.

Joshua 1:7-8 implores, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

The Lord challenged Joshua to remember his decrees. The guidance offered by the Lord’s word is what brings success.

As you and I are fulfilling our purpose, the Bible will guide us. There seems to be guidance for every season, every challenge, every question. We are earnestly begged to remember the Lord’s word on our journey.

Joshua put all these tips into practice, and he was a great leader. He understood timing. He knew the Lord was with him. He did not lack strength or courage, and he applied the Lord’s word. As a result, he was able to lead Israel in taking possession of the promised land. He was able to complete his calling and leave a legacy.

Acting

Challenge yourself to begin exercising these tips.

  • Pray that the Lord makes you more sensitive to his timing.
  • Challenge yourself to replace fear with the fact the Lord is with you.
  • Ask the Lord for strength and courage as you overcome barriers.
  • Seek guidance from the Bible.

How’s it going? Share in the comments.

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photo a sky at night in the desert

Patient Endurance Pays Off

Don’t give up. Patiently enduring today’s struggles will pay off with tomorrow’s successes.

Frank wasn’t known for his patience. While he was working, Frank’s wife called him. She was speaking kind of slowly, and her mood was somewhat down.

Irritated by this, Frank barked, “Get on with it. What do you need? And, be positive!”

She was silent for a moment, and then chipperly reported, “I found out today the airbags in our brand-new BMW work very well.”

Patience can be hard. We live in a well-connected world with virtually everything at our fingertips, so when patience is required, you and I may struggle a little. We want what we want when we want it, but sometimes patience is needed. Having patience may seem grueling to us, but the reward will be worth the backbreaking work.

Hebrews 10:36 implores, “Patient endurance is what you need now so that you will continue to do God’s will, then you will receive all that he has promised.”

Moses serves as an illustration of someone who had patience. He patiently endured the struggle of Israel wondering in the desert. Moses led Israel out of Egypt and wanted to take the people into the promised land, but the unbelief of the people forced Israel to stay in the desert the rest of Moses’ life. It would have been easy for Moses to give up in this situation, yet he remained faithful.

Moses patiently endured his circumstances. He knew something better was ahead. Moses knew what was ahead would be worth the wait. For him, it was Heaven, and for Israel, it was the promised land. Patient endurance will lead to a reward worth the wait.

Two frogs fell into a bucket of cream. The sides were slippery, and the frogs did not have an immediate way out of the bucket.

One frog immediately gave up. He said, “there’s no way out. We’re going to drown.” So, he stopped swimming and sank to the bottom.

The other frog said, “I’m going to keep swimming and see what happens.” He kicked and paddled; he swam and churned. Eventually, butter formed a platform under the frog. He was able to jump out of the bucket.

Right now, life may be in a season of adversity. Achieving goals, realizing dreams, and fulfilling purpose may be a struggle. Don’t give up. Tomorrow’s successes will be worth enduring the hardships of today.

Patient endurance will be worth it when we find success.

You are working hard. Your hard work uncovers more work needing done. It shows you more practice is needed or more connections made. You see the goal and dream, but you are beginning to doubt its obtainability.

Michael Jordan can relate. Jordan may be one of the best NBA players to ever touch the court, and he had to patiently endure missed shots, game losses, and letting the team down on his way to success. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games; 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed,” Michael Jordan once said.

The work you and I are now doing is helping us find success. It will be worth it when our goals are achieved, and dreams realized. Don’t give up. Patiently endure the struggles of today to enjoy the successes of tomorrow.

Patient endurance will be worth it when our purpose is fulfilled.

You’re trying to fulfill your purpose. It seems you have to overcome a barrier each step of the way. Your suggestions are ignored; your ideas fall on deaf ears. And, life seems to always pose an interruption. You’ve determined your purpose, but the present trials are causing you to doubt. Are you really the right person for this purpose?

Moses was ignored. His requests to the people fell on deaf ears. He endured all of this as he faithfully fulfilled his purpose. Moses wondered if he was the right person for the job; he doubted leading Israel was his purpose, but God said it was.

We, too, may wonder and doubt, but God gave us life and our purpose. Like Moses, we will experience struggles. The reward of fulfilling our purpose will be worth patiently enduring the struggles.

Patiently enduring this life will be worth it in the next.

The struggles of this life will be worth it in the next.

  • James 1:12 says, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
  • “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long, yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever,” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says. “So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now. Rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

Acting

Don’t give up. Today’s struggles will be worth tomorrow’s successes. Ask the Lord to help you patiently endure the struggles of today.

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