And the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings
of great joy, which shall be to all people."
“Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)
Last week I briefly touched on the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land. In spite of challenges faced, they kept moving. However, one interesting thing comes to mind. After finally being released by the Egyptians, they were on their way to where God had promised would be theirs. However, God directed them to take a route that even Pharaoh could tell would be difficult for them (Exodus 14:1-3). This route led them to the Red Sea. At this large body of water, Pharaoh, who changed his mind about releasing them and decided to pursue them, met up with them. Immediately, the Israelites cried out in fear. The Egyptians were behind them and the Red Sea in front of them. They could not alternatively pass any other way. They were indeed trapped. Yet, they had not led themselves there … that was all God (Exodus 14).
Have there been times in your life when you were sure that God had spoken, you were sure that God had directed you to go down a particular path and when you obeyed you began to wonder if maybe it was a mistake? Maybe you didn’t hear God correctly? In short, at the start of your journey, just like the Israelites I am sure, you felt confident even marched forward in eager anticipation of what lay ahead because you knew that you knew that you were following God’s leading. But then, along the way, the bumps started to appear - and were very annoying. Holes, ditches and pitfalls that you did not anticipate began to present themselves. Suddenly, you begin to question your journey, you begin to question God. The excitement is replaced with discouragement, fear, even anger. This is not what you had signed up for! Yet, God is still saying to you: “This is the way, walk in it.”
Never doubt that God knows exactly what He is doing. His plans for you are still to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). So, even though you may be walking through that valley of the shadow of death, and you know that God has guided you there, it means that He has a purpose for that valley. He has a purpose for guiding you down that difficult path. God never does things by accident. We are TOO precious to Him for Him to make mistakes with us! Whatever that difficult path or valley may be, God wants to bring good out of it for you. Maybe at the end of the day, out of all the lessons He can teach you through it, He wants most of all for you to learn to TRUST Him! It is easy to trust Him when the road is easy. It’s not so easy when the road is difficult.
The children of Israel left Egypt with boldness and confidence because their God had delivered them. That boldness turned to fear and complaining when they realised they were trapped between the Egyptians and the Red Sea. When things are easy we should trust God. When things become difficult along the journey, we should trust God MORE! Our trust should not decrease but increase. Now is when we realise we have to lean on Him a lot more; hold on to His Word and promises as if our life depended on it; trust Him even more to be the One to get us safely to our destination. It is still not about us or up to us. It’s all about HIM!!!
As I go through my own valleys and challenges, God is helping me to learn to trust Him more and lean on Him heavily when I need to. I can guarantee you, I am learning to lean on Him and hold on to His Word as if my very life depended on it … because it does!!! Trust His path, trust His leading. He will never lead you off course. He will always get you safely to where you need to be. God is still in control.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I urge you to do so now. Life’s journey can be a very difficult one at times and we need all the help and guidance we can get. Trust God to fulfil His plan and purpose for you. Trust Him to move through life’s journey with you and to get you safely to your promised destination.
What I realise and love about God and His Word is that there is always something to learn. You can take the same portion of Scripture and learn multiple things from it.
I found myself revisiting Psalm 23, specifically verse 4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.” It was during my morning devotion with God. He brought me to the point where He helped me realise that we don’t have to be stuck in the valley. According to the verse we are walking through the valley, not standing in one spot, we are actually moving through it.
The children of Israel were never stuck in the wilderness. They were actually on a journey to a specific destination - the Promised Land. Their journey was a difficult one filled with challenges and setbacks yet, no matter how many times they stopped to set up camp, God never allowed them to stay in one place indefinitely. They always moved on.
Sometimes it may feel as if we may never get to our destination. There may be so many setbacks, so many challenges, so many negative things coming our way to cause us to want to give up right where we are. Yet, we must keep going. While we are going through, we keep on trusting, keep on believing. The valley is never a place to stop but a place to pass through on our way to the other side.
David also described this valley as the valley of the shadow of death. It never was a valley of death. According to the merriam-webster dictionary, a shadow is a reflected image, an imitation of something. It even describes it as an imperfect and faint representation. I like all those definitions, especially the last one because it is a reminder to me that it’s not the real thing, only its reflection. The reality is that it is just as intimidating and terrifying as the real thing. However, when God allows us to go through this valley, it is NOT to destroy us, it is NOT to kill us. We don’t have to die there! And, what’s more, God has promised to be right there with us! He is reminding us through this Psalm that we don’t have to be afraid - of the reflection or of the real thing! He is there to offer the comfort and the support we need.
I am learning to thank God for these valleys in my life. They can be discouraging and even terrifying but God is always there. I am never alone. He never expects me to fight the battles that I face there on my own. He certainly doesn’t expect me to never reach my destination. As I learn to trust His guiding and His leading more and more, it gives me the confidence I need to know that I am going to make it through whatever valley I traverse. And that’s my encouragement to you as well. God will guide you through safely. It may not feel that way many times, but TRUST in Him in key. As I like to say at times, it’s not about our ability but His. He will get you through the valley. He will help you make it through to the other side. It may not happen when you want it to, or even how you want it to, but it will happen and in His perfect timing.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I invite you to do so now. Life if full of dangerous valleys but you don’t have to be stuck there. You can be confident of God’s constant presence guiding, leading, comforting and supporting you every step of the way. You are not alone. You will make it through!
I was sitting with my mom at her kitchen table. I decided to spend some time with her instead of rushing off to write this blog post. I felt that that was what was important at the time - spending quality time with my mom. But, can I tell you, that act of obedience was just a part of it. God had even more planned for me.
As I sat there, christian radio was playing. I wasn’t fully paying attention but suddenly my ears perked up as I heard a minister speaking about the power of our words. Now, mind you, I have shared on this more than once but I realised God was giving me a much needed reminder.
I love how God works sometimes. I am sitting there thinking that I am being nice and obedient doing what I felt He wanted me to do. But, my thoughts and understanding are nowhere near God’s. He had something more in mind and as my ears picked up what the minister was saying, I was reminded of things I had recently declared that were negative. They were based on my feelings and not faith. Yes, I have written about it, even spoken about it, but here I was having to face the reality that in recent hours I had failed in this area. God didn’t rebuke or embarrass me for it. He simply sent a gentle reminder of how I am supposed to handle challenges that come my way. With that reminder, I went to a quiet place, my “prayer closet” so to speak, and I made it right with God. I had to acknowledge where I had failed and choose instead to speak the right words that I knew very well to speak.
I share this as a reminder to us to be careful with our words. It can be so easy to speak negative when your feelings are overwhelmed because of challenges. Yet, what does God’s Word have to say about that situation? The minister used an example that showed that in spite of how he felt, he was still going to declare what God’s Word said NOT how he was feeling! It is something I have been doing but not consistently. It was good to have the much needed reminder
I remind us of the Shunammite woman who was blessed with a son after the prophet Elijah spoke a word over her life (2 Kings 4:8-37) Unfortunately, a few years later, her son became ill and died. Yet, when asked by various people if everything was okay , she said “It is well.” I don’t think she meant to be deceptive. She simply chose to believe that it would be alright. Her faith did not go unrewarded. Elijah prayed for her son and life came back into him!
I think we all need this reminder about the power of our words. We also need to be reminded and encouraged that God knows what we need. On this journey we will forget lessons learned, we will stumble and fall ever so often and will need the encouragement to get back up. What I love though is the fact that God knows us. He knows our strengths, He knows our weaknesses. When we are facing a weak moment, He simply comes alongside us and gives a much needed gentle reminder and encourages us. He is truly long-suffering toward us. He is patient and kind simply because He loves us. Even when He sharply rebukes us, it is still in love. He wants us to succeed, He still wants His best for us!
Be encouraged! God knows our weak human nature. He knows our journey can be challenging and He desires to help us along the way. He will not force Himself on us but He knows exactly how to give us the gentle and loving nudges that we need. God truly has our back!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I invite you to make that step now. You don’t have to do this Christian walk alone. God will be right there giving you all the guidance, direction and help you need. You will never be alone, God is always with you!
I was reading the testimony of renowned author and speaker, Christine Caine. She talked about her experience in ministry in her younger days. She was extremely involved to the point where she got little rest. When she did get rest, it was difficult for her to connect with God as she knew she should. She filled that void instead with more work hoping to fill the emptiness in her heart.
Finally, she collapsed and was forced to rest and recover for three weeks. During this time, God spoke to her in such a beautiful way. He led her to read Psalm 18:19 (NIV): “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” She realised that God was delighted not just in the people she was ministering to or in all that she was doing for him but He delighted in HER. She was important to Him too!
This testimony reminds me of myself. In my younger days, I too was heavily involved in ministry. It was also a time of great intimacy with God. I enjoyed my time with Him. However, like Christine, I too collapsed and had to go through a period of rest. God delighted in me and wanted the best for me. He allowed me to go through my season of rest because He was just as interested in my well-being as He was in everyone else’s.
God loves you. He is pleased with all that you do for Him but I believe He is even more in love with you. I mean, why would He send the Son He loves to die for you? Why would He bother to even wake you up every day if He didn’t have a beautiful plan for your life? Yes, bad things will come your way. That’s life. Yet, that does not mean that God loves you less. In fact, He gives you the grace to face and go through those bad seasons that you don’t like.
This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
God loved us first. He did not wait for us to love Him to decide whether or not to love us. And, as if that isn’t enough, He loves us whether or not we love Him in return. Think about it, He sent His Son to die for us even though we might never accept His gift of salvation through Him! How many of us can love like that?! We fail, we mess up and God still loves us. He still desires the best for us: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
So, I just want to encourage you today by reminding you that no matter what you do for others, or for God, it will never be more important to Him than you are. God loves you. While you are lying on your sick bed remember, God loves you. While you are going through that challenging season, God loves you. When you mess up and you fail, remember, God loves you. God’s love for you is not dependent on your perfection. It is solely dependent on HIM and on who He is - LOVE!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I invite you to do so now. God has been loving you even before you were born. Allow Him to give you His best today - His Love!
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.