For He Himself has said: "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
God loves you! There is nothing you can do to change that fact, there is nothing you can do to make Him hate you. Our God loves us ... no matter what! I watched an interview on the 700 Club interactive featuring renowned worship leader, Don Moen. He shared the story behind his very popular song “God will make a way.” It turns out that this song was born out of tragic circumstances. His wife’s sister, her husband and their children were hit by an eighteen-wheeler truck. One of their children died. In an effort to comfort them, he composed this song which he sang for them. A few years later he sang it for the staff at Integrity Music where he was working at the time and was encouraged to record it because everyone was so touched by it. It became one of his most popular songs.
As he put it, although written because of tragedy, it is not a song of desperation but declaration. When he asked God to give him something to bring hope to his family in their hopeless situation, he opened his Bible and Isaiah 43:18-19 jumped out at him: “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” And, right then and there, he composed the lyrics and melody to this song.
I don’t know about you but right there in this story of tragedy I see God’s love. He may not have prevented the tragedy from happening but used it as an opportunity to reveal His deep love and His strength in a time of sadness, hopelessness and despair. Only God...!!! God is the only One who can and will give us beauty in exchange for our ashes; the only One who will give us joy in exchange for our mourning (Isaiah 61:3); the only One who can create something beautiful out of something negative to provide hope and encouragement not just to us but to others as well. No, your pain is not wasted; your tragedy is not wasted. God will take it all and do something beautiful with it.
The lyrics of the song are as follows:
God will make a way where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me
He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.
As I look at Isaiah 43:18-19, I see a God who will do everything in His power to help us, encourage us, strengthen us. Think about the not so pleasant things you have been through. It may have been tough, may still be tough, but today you are still standing in spite of it all. God gives us strength when we need it, when we wonder how in the world we are going to make it. He offers us hope in those impossible situations. He showers us with His love which enables us to keep going, keep trusting, keep holding on when it seems like we should just let go. God doesn’t want us to fix our focus on the past and all the unpleasant things that reside there. He wants us to focus on the future of hope He has planned for us. He will do it. We can’t! That’s just a fact. He will do the impossible. As Isaiah says, He will do a new thing; He will make a road (a way) in the wilderness; He will make rivers in the desert. He will satisfy us and fulfil us in those dry and difficult seasons ... He will do it!
But, I want us to think about something. We go out of our way for those we love. We try to make things right for them when things go wrong. Guess what? God loves us so much that He will do anything in His power to bring good to us. He desires to make us happy. He desires to take away our hurt. Sometimes we can’t see him working as the song suggests, but He is working, shifting, moving things around, putting things in place to bring the best to us out of our hurt and heartache. God gives His all, His best for us because He loves us. He makes impossible situations possible; He creates new and beautiful things out of what is broken, trampled upon, smeared with filth ... God holds us, comforts us, guides us ... loves us. His love for us never fails!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. God loves you and is waiting for you to step into His open arms so that He can take care of you, comfort you, love you. You can’t stop God from loving you. You would be wasting your time if you tried!!!
Last week I shared on being thankful but this week I don’t feel the need to move on from this topic. The reality is thanksgiving is a powerful thing, a powerful tool that we should always have in our tool kit.
I am also not going to move on from talking about Psalm 23. There is still more to say. As I said before, it is a psalm that reminds us that our God is right there with us in the midst of every trial we may go through and, He is not just there, but He is blessing us and enabling us to go through successfully.
In fact, from the first three verses we see that God is the One doing it all. In verse 1 it reminds us that He is our Shepherd and we have all that we need. That first verse, to me, pretty much sums up the entire psalm. But in verses two and three, each line starts with “He...”
HE makes me to lie down in green pastures
HE leads me beside the still waters
HE restores my soul
HE leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Do you see anywhere there where we are the ones doing the leading, the guiding or the restoring? NO! God is doing it and it’s not because we are lazy, it’s because He loves us and He is taking the initiative. It's because He is able, He can do it when we can’t. He doesn’t expect us to try to do it because for sure we will fail. And this is where we can be thankful, that even though we can’t do it ourselves God will do it for us. He will sustain us, He will keep us, He will guide us, He will restore and refresh us when we need it. In Him, we have everything that we need but many times we miss it. I think it’s because we get so distracted by the challenges of life that we lose our focus, we lose sight of our God and the fact that He is right there, unchangeable, unmoving and He is looking out for us. He sees the trouble before it even comes and He is ready and waiting with the help we need.
From verses four and five, however, a shift takes place. It becomes more personal and David switches from “He” to “You.” Think about it, when trials and difficulties come our way, God becomes closer and dearer to us.
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.
YOU prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
YOU anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
I don’t know about you but when I am going through storms, God becomes even more personal to me. The desperation, the frustration, the hurt, whatever it is, draws me to my God in a way that I recognize that it is my God and my God alone that can and will see me through this situation.
On top of all of this, my God blesses me for others to see, even my enemies. Yet, I don’t think He just wants to bless us so that our enemies can feel badly – that’s what we would like to think – but I think He wants them to see that if He could forgive us and take us under His wing and take care of us, He will do the same for them too once they surrender to Him. Remember, with God there is always a bigger picture!
And finally, He will cause goodness and mercy to follow us always. To me that means that they will follow me in the valley and on the mountaintop; they will follow me in the good times and in the bad. Think about those three Hebrew boys Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3: 19-27). God’s goodness and mercy followed them straight into that fiery furnace, enabled them to walk around as if nothing was happening and brought them out safely, without even the smell of smoke on them!
We have so much to be thankful for! Our God will never leave us or forsake us and that’s the first and main point we need to always remember. And, if He will always be there for us and with us, it doesn’t matter what comes our way, HE will lead us, HE will guide us, HE will refresh us, HE will protect us, HE will strengthen us, HE will deliver us, HE will bless us, HE will keep us! BE THANKFUL!!!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. God is not distant from us. He desires a very personal relationship with us. He loves us and wants to take care of us. He wants to meet us at the point of every need. Give Him that chance today to be the support, encouragement, and very personal God that He wants to be to you ALWAYS.
For the past several weeks I have been sharing on hope, the power of prayer and the importance of trusting in God. I felt the need, however, this week to remind us to be thankful. At the end of the day, no matter what we go through, a heart of gratitude can carry us a long way.
I have also wanted to share on the song, “Shall Not Want” by Elevation Worship and Maverick City. Now that I am going to share on being thankful, I feel that this is just the song to help me do that.
The chorus reads:
I shall not want, I shall not want
Oh, my soul’s got a shepherd in the valley and I shall not want
I shall not want, I shall not want
‘Cause my cup’s running over, running over and I shall not want
When we look at Psalm 23, it is not a psalm of despair or discouragement. It’s a psalm that reminds us that no matter what we are going through our Shepherd is right there covering us, comforting us, blessing us as we go through. I love the line which says that we have a shepherd with us when we are going through our valleys. I look at the word “valley” and I think of tough, trying seasons, seasons of discouragement, of despair, when you wonder if you are going to make it through and make it out safely and in one piece. Yet, in Psalm 23:4, we are reminded that even when we traverse those tough valleys, we don’t have to be afraid because our God is there with us, comforting and encouraging us. It does not say that we won’t go through those valleys or that He will even take us out immediately, but it does encourage us that while there, we don’t have to be afraid because He will be there with us and He will comfort us in our valley.
When you look at the writer of this psalm, David, you know that he did not just write a song for the sake of writing a song. He went through a lot of trials and even at times I am sure feared for his very life. Yet, he learned trust and dependence on God through his trials; he discovered that his God is a present help in time of trouble and that He would never leave him or abandon him in his distress.
While being pursued by king Saul, of course he felt alone, of course he felt discouraged, of course he felt confused because he could not understand why his king was trying to kill him especially when he had done nothing wrong. Yet, I believe it was in this season that David developed an even greater intimacy with his God, that he truly experienced who God really is and how much his God truly loved him. This psalm I think is his personal testimony of that. It’s a song of thanksgiving, where David acknowledges God’s love and goodness to him. He is not complaining about how difficult his life is. He is not even expressing a desire to give up. He simply chooses to exalt his God who takes care of him even in the “valley of the shadow of death” (v.4).
I believe we too need to have this same attitude of gratitude. Life is tough, we can’t escape that reality. Challenges are going to come. Jesus Himself said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jesus has already overcome. He has already won the battle and once we remain in Him and put our trust and confidence in Him we have the confidence that nothing that comes against us will ever be able to defeat us.
As I have said time and again, I have learned to be thankful not just in spite of trials but for them because these are the times when I am closest to God, when I learn valuable lessons that help me be stronger and wiser. My intimacy with God increases and that is always a good thing. I get to see God in action as He shows up and shows out in a powerful and mighty way. Think about it: if God did not take the Israelites along the path that led them to the Red Sea, they would never have witnessed the miracle of the parting of this large body of water as God made a way for them through it (Exodus 14). He could have taken them along a different path, He could have avoided the Red Sea but He did not. In the same way, God does not always take us through easier paths because He wants the opportunity to teach us to trust Him to do impossible things. And when He does the impossible, we get the opportunity to be thankful.
If you have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life, I encourage you to do so now. We can’t always avoid difficult seasons but in Christ those difficult times can become opportunities to be thankful to the God who can help us make it through anything.
I am often encouraged when I listen to testimonies of what God is doing in people’s lives. It is a reminder to me that nothing is impossible with God and if He did it for others, He will do it for me.
I listened to the testimony of a pastor named Ken who went to the doctor for a routine prostate checkup. At this visit, it was discovered that he had elevated PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen), a marker for cancer and unfortunately, the twelve-sample biopsy confirmed what he feared. He became discouraged as he remembered that his mother had cancer and had suffered for a long time before she finally died. His doctor recommended surgery but he wanted to experience what God had said in His Word about healing in James 5:14: “Prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.” He suggested praying about it and his doctor not only agreed but led them in prayer. He also requested prayer from his church.
Soon, Ken got caught up in other matters which he considered more urgent than his own needs. As he put it, it was difficult to find an extended period of time to seek God in his situation. Unfortunately, two months later his PSA rose again to 15.5 and his doctor once again recommended surgery. He became filled with fear and regret that he had not sought the Lord as he should have. He reluctantly scheduled surgery but had to switch to another doctor who specialized in the particular type of surgery he had opted for. When it was time for his doctor visit, he prayed asking God for a sign directing him which way to go. He acknowledged that he had a wife and children and that this was not just about him. He met a medical assistant and as he opened up to her that he was a pastor and had actually preached about healing, she told him emphatically that he needed to live what he preached. She was right. It can be so easy to preach it but living it out in our own life can prove so difficult!
God had healed her of cervical cancer and she was convinced that God would heal him also and she joined her faith with his that God would heal him. She took his blood sample and when the results came, his PSA had dropped from 15.5 to 7.4. He knew that God was speaking. He once again postponed the surgery and decided to go to a friend’s cabin where he spent three days praying and fasting. Halfway through the second day he felt an assurance that God had healed him but he felt that God wanted him to complete his prayer and fast before returning home.
A few months later he did another PSA test and biopsy. He was confident of the results. However, results showed that his PSA had jumped from 7.4 to 8.7. He was disappointed and nervous because his PSA had risen. However, he felt strongly that the Lord was telling him to wait for the results of the biopsy. When he got those results a few days later, all twelve biopsies were free from cancer! He was ecstatic and saw this as a manifestation of the power of God. He credits prayer as the reason for his healing.
This story encourages me in different ways. For one thing, throughout Ken’s journey, God placed the right medical personnel in his path who also believed in God and who prayed and encouraged him along the way. What are the chances of that happening? Only God! Even when he switched doctors the medical assistant at the second facility had been healed of cancer and was encouraging him that if God did it for her, He would do it for him and she even joined her faith with his! God always sends the right people at the right time to encourage us and to stand with us when He knows we need it!
In my own life as I faced various challenges, there were times when God not only sent people who prayed for me but who were even willing to fast on my behalf when I could not do it myself! Again, only God! When we put our trust in Him, He always sends help when we need it and many times from sources we least expect. I think here about the story of Elijah. After experiencing a great victory at Mount Carmel against the prophets of Baal, queen Jezebel threatened to kill him. Elijah ran for his life. He moved from confidence in God to complete fear and even prayed that he might die. Yet, what did God do? He sent an angel on two occasions to provide food and water to sustain him for the long journey ahead (1Kings 19:1-8). God knows how to provide the help and support we need when we need it!
I also look at the fact that when things got worse, Ken blamed himself for not paying enough attention to taking care of his own needs. But God is faithful. Even as his focus shifted, God’s focus remained on him and although results showed that his condition was worsening, God was setting things up for him to switch doctors and to meet a medical assistant who would join with him in prayer and in faith in the next stage of his journey. He may have felt like he had failed God but God was actually setting him up! And that’s what God does sometimes. He sets us up and puts things and people in place to provide the answers we need.
Finally, even after receiving the assurance from God that he was healed, his PSA increased. He had a choice here – to walk by faith or by sight. He also had the choice to listen to God’s voice telling him to wait for the biopsy results ... which he did. He was not disappointed. Listening to God’s voice was key. Focusing on the results filled him with fear, listening to and obeying God’s voice offered hope. Many times, we have to do the same – choose to stand on God’s Word instead of on what we see, feel or experience. God will never fail us. I don’t believe He even knows how.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do so now. When life sends challenges your way, it is good to know that God will always be your greatest support, healer and friend. Give Him a chance today.
This week I listened to the testimony of a couple who went through a fiery ordeal. Ken had been flying commercially and in the Royal Canadian air force for over thirty-six years. One day, he and his wife decided to make a trip to Washington D.C. as well as make a stop to Virginia to visit their daughter. After taking off, he decided to do some checks and discovered that the oil pressure was too low. While trying to get assistance from the air traffic control tower, the engine stopped.
His mind raced trying to figure out the best and safest place to land the plane. He couldn’t land on the runway or in the town. He finally decided to land on a narrow gravel levy between the edge of town and a swamp. After a quick desperate prayer, he landed but the plane was difficult to control. Unfortunately, the left landing gear fell off and broke off and the plane spun around and then stopped. When he looked over his wife’s shoulder, all he saw was flames. They had little hope of getting out alive. He stepped out on to the fiery wing of the plane and the fire moved up his feet to his head. He grabbed his wife’s hand to pull her out of her seat but her headset was still on and she fell back into her seat. Ken was feeling helpless and hopeless. He made up his mind that he was not leaving his wife and that he would die with her if necessary. She finally got loose from the seat while he was feeling his feet, clothes and hair were burning. As she got onto the wing of the plane with him, a circle with no fire surrounded them. They were able to jump into the water and swim to safety.
As I listened to this testimony, I was moved and encouraged by the impossibility of their situation. The plane was malfunctioning in the air, no one could help. Notice, prayer is hardly mentioned at all in this testimony. In fact, it is only mentioned once. Sometimes, I think, when we are going through tough situations, we can become so overwhelmed and distracted by what is happening that we don’t even consider praying. Our minds are racing trying to figure out our situation. That’s what Ken was understandably doing because as a pilot, his first response to an emergency was to figure out how to land the plane with its passengers safely. We too, many times, are busy trying to figure it out. That’s a normal human response. I recently saw a quote on Facebook by TobyMac which says it quite accurately: “God is not asking you to figure it out. God is asking you to trust that HE already has.” God already has it worked out. While we are stressing and fretting, God already has the answer to our problem.
Sometimes, it does seem as if we pray and pray and nothing is happening. It seems as if God is not hearing and we feel discouraged. Things even seem to be getting worse. Yet, just because it looks as if nothing is happening doesn’t mean that that is true. Sometimes God is working but we can’t see it or feel it. It seems as if He is silent but it doesn’t mean that He isn’t hearing or seeing what is taking place. This is where trust comes in. We trust God not because of what we can see. We trust God because we know what He is capable of and that He will come through for us. It’s about faith!
The miracle in this testimony is that fireless circle that appeared around them; the fact that the fire parted leaving a clear path to the water. We can’t always tell God how to work. He chose to allow them to go through this fiery experience. Sometimes He may allow us to go through the fire instead of preventing it.
Ken and his wife did suffer burns on their body. Ken got the worst of it. He had to undergo multiple surgeries because of second and third degree burns on eight percent of his body. But, today they are thankful to God for helping them make it through that experience. He didn’t take them around it or over it but through it. Now Ken finds it easier to tell others about God simply because of what God did for them in that situation.
I think of the Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to any other god but Jehovah God (Daniel 3:1-21). God allowed them to go through the fire so that the Gentile king, Nebuchadnezzar, would see and acknowledge that God is the one true and living God (Daniel 3:28-29). Sometimes we have to go through because that is the best way to draw others to Him. And, if He takes us through it, He will bring us out safely.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as personal Lord and Savior, I invite you to do so now. Trials will come – that’s a part of life. But, with God on your side, each trial can become a testimony to lead others to Him.
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.