And the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings
of great joy, which shall be to all people."
I am always amazed at how God speaks to me every week giving me something interesting to write about. Last week it was about crushed glass and He used a video on the subject to help me visualize those times when we feel crushed, defeated, discouraged, hopeless; those times when we may just want to give up and in fact we may actually do just that.
Happily, right on the heels of that He brought my attention to a song, as if to remind me that it’s not over, He’s right there and He will come when I need Him. It’s a song by Toby Mac entitled: “Help is on the way,” and it just seemed to be such a powerful word especially when we may be in situations where we feel trapped, as if the storm will never end. This song was on repeat on YouTube and in my mind. I was singing and playing it so much that I think my children were getting tired of hearing it over and over. But for me it was a song of hope and encouragement; that God sees our tears and hears our prayers and He certainly does not turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to our pain and struggles.
This week God reminded me of Hannah, the prophet Samuel’s mother. She was desperate for a child and it did not help that her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, kept tormenting her about her barrenness. Even though their husband loved her more and tried to show it, it just wasn’t enough because he truly could not understand her desperate need for children. She was alone and had no one to turn to but she cried out to her God and He did not let her down. God came to her rescue and blessed her with a child and as she promised Him, gave him back to Him to be of service to Him among the priests (1 Samuel 1). God in turn blessed her with more children (1 Samuel 2:20-21).
I also think of David. He went to the battlefield to carry food for his brothers and found out that the Philistine giant, Goliath, was challenging the Israelite army. He became indignant and decided to put this giant in his place. The problem was that David too was totally alone. The Philistine army were of course against him, but the Israelite army, his own people, did not support him because they did not believe he could defeat Goliath. Not even his king, Saul, had the confidence he could defeat him. But David knew his God, he knew what his God could do because he had seen him do it when He helped him kill a lion and a bear in defence of his sheep. So, like Hannah, as David stood alone before his giant, he trusted his God to do the impossible and God did not let him down (1 Samuel 17).
In both instances, help came when they needed it. Both situations were impossible. Neither person felt capable in and of themselves to deal with their situation, but, they both trusted in their God. They both turned to Him and depended on Him to do what neither they nor anyone else could do for them. And when they trusted in their God, He came to their rescue.
There is a part of the song by Toby Mac that really catches my attention. I listened to the song story behind it and he mentioned a particular portion of scripture, which he included in his song. It speaks about God “rolling up His sleeves.” I became intrigued that such a verse could actually be in the Bible, so I started searching. I found it in Isaiah 52:10. The version that is most commonly seen however, is: “The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations....” But there is one version, the Message Bible or MSG translation, which translates it as this: “God has rolled up His sleeves. All the nations can see His holy, muscled arm.” This version may not quite work for some of us but let’s face it, it gives the idea of a God who is letting the whole world be aware of His strength, His ability, His power. He is not a weak god who can’t but a very powerful God who can! And as I listened to that part of the song, sung over and over as if to drive home the point, I could almost picture God rolling up His sleeves, one, as if preparing to fight for us, and two, to let everyone know that He has already won the battle. He is the undisputed and undefeated champion and no devil in hell could ever change that!
So, the next time the devil or anyone or any negative situation tries to intimidate you and beat you down, just remember that Jehovah God, El Shaddai, El Gibbor, is our champion and He hasn’t lost a battle yet ... and He never will!!!
If you don’t have a relationship with the God who fights for you and wins your battles, I encourage you to invite His Son, Jesus, into your life. Allow Him to come in and take charge of every battle, every situation in your life that is bigger than you and sit back and watch Him do what He does best ... fight and win!
I watched a video recently on crushed glass. Thousands of these pieces of glass had been washed up on the seashore and seemed to form a glittering film on the sand. As the narrator explained, many years ago, bottles would have been discarded in the sea and these had been broken and crushed by the pounding waves over a period of time. But besides being broken and crushed, each broken piece had also been smoothed over by the same rough movements of the salty waters. They were of different colours – white, blue, green, brown – and left a colorful display, I’m sure, as they were washed up on the seashore.
Many feet would have crushed them, unseeing, uncaring, barely taking a moment’s notice as they made their way along the seashore. But each piece had a unique story to tell, of the hands through which it had passed before becoming a broken mess; of lands it had seen before being pounded into seeming nothingness at the hands of crashing waves.
Sometimes, we may feel like these pieces of broken glass – once whole, once full of life, usefulness and purpose before the waves of life came crashing down on us, shattering us, seeming to strip us of every shred of worth and value. For many, being whole, being complete has become a distant, foreign memory that we can never grasp again. Yet, only our Sovereign God has that unique, beautiful ability to make something special out of nothing; He has the power and ability to breathe life and worth into something that seems worthless.
Just like the analogy of the wet wood in my post last week, God is able to ignite something that seems “unignitable.” Only God can take a life that has been battered and soaked by wave after wave after wave and washed ashore like a piece of rubbish and create treasure out of it. It doesn’t matter how hopeless your life looks, it doesn’t matter how worthless you may feel because of failures and shortcomings, God is able to do amazing things in and through you.
Here’s the other interesting part. With those same batterings and beatings that life sends your way, God is also able to smooth you out and make you into something beautiful and special. I love to say that nothing is wasted by God and it isn’t. Even the negative He is able to use as a tool to sculpt something of worth, value and purpose. I can assure you that that is exactly what God has done and is still doing in my own life. Nothing in my life, good or bad, is being wasted by Him. He is taking everything and using it for good.
Recently, I felt discouraged as God helped me to understand the negative impact certain situations in my past were having on my life now. The memories of those negative situations brought feelings of worthlessness and discouragement that were difficult to simply shake off. But God had a plan. As I spent some hours battling with negative emotions, God stepped in, in His usual glorious way, and helped me to see that in spite of the negatives He had been using me to do wonderful things for Him all along. He never waited for me to become perfect or to have it all together. Even as my messy pieces lay around me as if taunting me, God helped me to see that it was those same pieces He used to reach others for Him. It was my brokenness that He used to reach other broken people ... NOT my “perfection.”
Over the years, as I have learned to give each broken piece, each defective piece to Him, He has used each one to bring encouragement, hope and comfort to others. No, my God didn’t need me to have it all together. He just needed me to surrender each and every broken area of my life to Him and to let Him shine in and through it. Each piece He used to reflect HIS light NOT my brokenness and He’ll do the same for you. Just ask Him to take those pieces that are so hard for you to surrender, those pieces that you have been holding on to for so long, almost as a source comfort. It’s not in the holding on, hoping that it will just go away. It’s in the letting go, releasing it into the Hands that are able to transform something worthless and painful into something valuable, useful ... a true treasure.
If you have not asked Christ to come into your life as Lord and Saviour, I invite you to do so now. Allow Him to take every area of your life and use it for His honour and glory. Only He can take it and create a life that shines brightly for Him!
I heard a sermon recently by Sarah Jakes Roberts entitled, “Wet wood still burns.” Just the title alone is intriguing because obviously if wood gets wet it is difficult to even ignite it, yet, here is this imagery of wet wood burning. I was very encouraged by what she was sharing and I also thought of the prophet Elijah when he challenged the prophets of Baal in order to prove the true and living God.
They each had to kill a bull and place it on some wood. They then had to call on the name of their gods to send fire to consume the offering. Of course, the prophets of Baal called upon their gods for several hours and no fire came to burn up the offering. Elijah, however, proceeded to build an altar, place the wood and the bull on it. He also built a trench around the altar and poured water on the sacrifice, on the wood and the altar until the trench was filled. Everything had been drenched in water and was soaking wet. He then called upon the name of the God of Israel and the Lord sent fire and completely consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the altar and all the water that had filled the trench (1 Kings 18:19-39).
Expecting God to do a miracle and send fire from the sky was one thing. But for Him to consume water and everything that had been soaked by that water was another. You see, at the end of the day, our God is still the God of the impossible. We usually use water to extinguish fire, not the other way around. Only God could have accomplished such a feat. I’m sure no one there expected the fire to do what it did, but it did because God did it. I am in awe of the fact that Elijah had so much faith in God that he actually added water to everything. And he didn’t just add water, he completely soaked down everything and put himself in a position to possibly look bad in front of all Israel. But he didn’t. His God, their God, did not let him down because He saw his faith.
This story is not just a story of bold faith but of hope, that no matter how bad things seem, how saturated your situation may be in hopelessness and despair, like I love to say, God still has the final say. And it’s not over until God says it’s over.
Think about it. Sometimes life doesn’t just throw one thing at us at a time, but many things all at once. The enemy’s purpose is to so ambush and bombard and overwhelm us with a number of negative things all at once, that we may feel as if we are drowning in this “flood,” as if we are, figuratively speaking, unable to keep our heads above water. And it is at times like these that we have a choice: we can either choose to handle it the devil’s way or God’s way. Many times in desperation we may use weapons that don’t line up with the Word of God, weapons doused in fear, bitterness, anger that only make things worse not better. But God’s way of doing things will always be the best way. Use His spiritual weapons: stand on His word, pray, praise and worship and obey His instructions to you. Sometimes it just means resting and that can be extremely difficult to do.
Remember, wet wood only burns if God is doing the burning. Maybe the burning also entails burning up all those negative, impossible things in your character, in your heart, that you just can’t get rid of yourself. At the end of the day, the challenges we face come from both within ourselves and from external situations. At any given point in time, we are battling both the negative attacks from without as well as the negatives from within that want to destroy us. This is when we may feel thoroughly overwhelmed and as if the battle is so unfair. But, when you feel completely “soaked” and burdened, it is good to remember that only God can consume even water. Isaiah 59:19b says: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” In other words, God will send Him running!
There have been a number of times in my own life where I have felt bombarded by the enemy’s attacks from without and within. I felt backed into a corner but when I fixed my focus on God, just like He has been teaching me to do over many years, He always comes through for me. Sometimes He changes the situation and sometimes He simply changes me in the situation.
When God intervenes, we may not always be able to tell Him how to fix it, how to do His job, but we can trust that He will cause all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28). We are not alone. God is interested in what is His best for us. God’s way of thinking and His way of doing things can be so very different to ours. But at the end of the day, there is still a bigger picture He is trying to complete, and it will be completed His way.
If you want to be a part of God’s bigger, beautiful picture, ask Jesus to come into your life. Allow Him to take what you can’t fix on your own and to use it to bring out His best for you and in you.
As I thought about what to write this week, I remembered a video I watched last week about a “hero dad.” Actually, I considered sharing on this same video last week but clearly God had another plan.
It caught my attention because it tells the story of a father who shielded his three young sons during gun fire at a local car dealer. It was his wife’s birthday and he had decided to buy her a new car. While there, a man on the street outside started firing shots at the dealership. The man and his sons were seated on a couch just behind the glass wall which separated them from the gunman who was walking by on the street outside. As he started firing, the man grabbed his sons and pulled them to the floor with him. One of the shots came through the back of the couch where they had been sitting. One of his sons could have been killed. One of the bullets hit his leg and would require surgery to be removed. After the ordeal, he calmly called his wife and asked her to come pick up their sons. She had no clue what had happened.
As I listened to this story, the thought of God as our hero daddy crossed my mind. I thought of Psalm 91 which speaks so clearly about God’s covering and protection over us. The first few verses state: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in Him I will trust” (v 1-2).
Those young boys were so covered by their daddy that as soon as the gunfire began, his instincts kicked in and he immediately, as he put it, "went into fatherly mode." Danger was upon them and all he could think about was the safety of his sons. Guess what? God feels the same way about us. When danger comes, God kicks into protective mode and does what He knows to do to shield us. I know many times we may not even feel His covering and protection. We even sometimes wonder if He is even there. We may even feel alone as we go through. But think about it. That father did not stop that gunman from shooting at the car dealership. His first thought was to cover and protect not stop the shooting. Many times, when it seems as if God is not stepping in to stop the situation, the challenge, the trial, maybe He is more concerned about us understanding that in the midst of our trials He is there. Maybe He wants us to see His ability not just to take away the problem – which He can do – but to shield us and help us to survive it, to even thrive in the midst of it.
We all want our problems to go away; we want the people and things that stress us out to disappear but sorry to say that may not always be God’s solution to our problem. In time, He may remove certain elements of the problem, but His greatest concern may be that we understand that when we go through, we will survive, we will make it, we will even prosper and thrive in the midst of it, because He is there covering, shielding, protecting.
I also looked at the reality that God takes a lot of the “bullets” that should hit us but don’t. We may never know how many “bullets” meant for us that God has actually taken on our behalf. If we really think about it, we should be dead because some of those trials were just plain designed to kill us. But they didn’t succeed. The devil didn’t succeed because he is the one that is defeated NOT us.
Isaiah 43:2-3 says: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”
We will go through, we can’t escape it. The darts will come our way, we can’t stop them. Isaiah 54:17 tells us that the weapon will be formed but, you know what? It won’t prosper against us. So, let’s not put our hope in our problems disappearing or never coming our way. That’s part of life, they will come. Let’s put our hope instead in our God, our hero-daddy, who takes more bullets for us than we can imagine, who shields us sometimes from things that we may never even know about. Our God sees what we can’t, He knows what we don’t and if He does not worry because He knows who He is, then why should we?
If you are not under God’s protective covering, I invite you today to accept His Son Jesus into your life and secure His protection over you. As His son or daughter, just like that father in the story, He is obligated to shield, protect and take care of you.
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.