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 recently listened to Tyler Perry share about his fear of flying. He was so afraid of flying that in order to get to the various cities where he had engagements he would use his bus which, of course, depending on how far he had to go, would take a few days. Finally, realizing that his fear was being a hindrance to God’s call on his life, he got his pilot’s license and bought his own aircraft. Before flying the plane on his own, he decided to take a trip with the salesman to ensure that he could comfortably do so. On his second trip with him, they encountered some turbulence. Immediately, he panicked and begged the salesman to land the plane. But the man refused and instead told him to hold on for a bit.
Now let’s be real for a minute. When faced with a turbulent situation, the first thing we usually want to do is get out of it. We don’t want to stick around to find out how it all ends, especially when we feel as if the situation will make an end of us. Like Tyler, we want to “land the plane,” we want to get to a place of safety. We don’t want to go through the pain, the heat, the pressure, we just want to get out! We pray and ask God to remove the problem, we ask Him to get us out of the trial, because we are absolutely sure that we are not going to make it.
I’m pretty sure that’s how Tyler felt. Yet, his co-pilot, the salesman, told him to hang on for a minute. Those are not exactly the words I am sure he wanted to hear, but sometimes it seems as if that is exactly what God is saying to us in the midst of troubling situations: “Hold on a minute, don’t panic.” It can be so difficult to hear God speaking when all around us our world seems to be falling apart. Yet, even in the midst of dire circumstances, God may still be saying to us, “Hold on a minute, don’t panic, just trust Me.”
Right after the salesman told him to hold on for a minute the voice of the air traffic controller came through their headphones telling them to “climb.” They were not alone in their situation! There was someone there with experience to guide them to safety! The fact was that they could not see the air traffic controller but he could see them on his radar. He could see if another plane was coming their way and guide the two planes away from each other; he could warn them of bad weather and guide them through it; and he could guide them to climb high and safe enough to avoid turbulence! It’s pretty much the same with God. We can’t see Him but He sees us. He knows when danger is coming and can skillfully guide us away from it or through it depending on which would benefit us more.
We are NEVER alone. The One with way more experience than us, is right there to give guidance and direction when we need it. And even though they could not see the air traffic controller they could hear his voice. We too may not be able to see God but we can hear His voice, sometimes simply reminding us of what His Word is saying to us as we go through that turbulence: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b); “No weapon formed against you shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17a); “You will not die but live and declare the works of the Lord” (Psalms 118:17); “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Yes, God has a Word for every situation we find ourselves in.
When the air traffic controller’s voice came over the headphones he told them to climb to 6,500 feet and maintain that altitude. As they followed these instructions and climbed higher and higher they soon left the turbulence behind and found themselves in a place of calm. Tyler had to go through that challenge to help him get over his fear of flying. If they had landed prematurely like he had requested, he never would have learned how to skillfully fly in turbulence. And when you think about it, his fear would have continued being a hindrance to what God wanted to do in his life.
We all have turbulence to face, but we are never alone. God is always right there just a call away if we need any help. We can do like what Tyler tried to do and land the plane before time. We can throw in the towel thinking it’s not worth it. The thing is, if we quit before time, we may never get to experience what God has in store for us. Sometimes, we sabotage our own destinies when we give up too soon. We could miss our place of calm, we could miss the blessings God has for us, we could miss the opportunity to experience a great deliverance and victory just because we landed our plane when turbulence hit instead of simply climbing higher.
I am convinced that everything we need in turbulent times is at our disposal. God will never leave us ill-equipped or without help. He is still a present help in time of trouble (Psalms 46:1).
If you have not invited Jesus Christ into your life, I encourage you to do so now. It’s good to know that when troubling times come, we have our own air traffic controller who knows exactly how to guide us to safety.
I don’t know much, if anything, about the game of chess. I have never made much of an attempt over the years to try to understand how to play the game. However, recently, I read an interesting story about the game. In 1831 a German artist, Moritz August Retzsch, painted a picture where two players, Satan and a young man, were engaged in a game of chess. Satan looked on confidently as the young man, in a state of utter despair and confusion, realized he could make no other move as his king was almost completely surrounded by his opponent’s pieces. Checkmate! Game over! His opponent had won! The name of this piece was originally entitled, “The Chess Players” but was later called, “Checkmate.”
Does this scene sound familiar? In real life, many times we feel as if our king has been taken. We have all faced situations I’m sure, and may be facing some now, where, like that young man, we feel trapped, surrounded, as if there is no way of escape. We have prayed, we have cried, we may have even given up on God, on all hope, because everything around us is screaming, “Game over!” The situation almost seems to be laughing at us telling us to give up, to give in, to just quit! But thankfully with God, no matter how bad things seem, there is ALWAYS hope!
Believe it or not, this story continues with an additional account of a famous chess player, Paul Morphy, who in the late 1800s made a visit to Richmond, Virginia. There, a prominent man invited him to his home for a game of chess. During dinner, Morphy became engrossed in the exact same picture, “Checkmate,” which the man owned. At the end of dinner, he made the surprising announcement that he knew how to save the young man’s game. The chess game was set up exactly as in the picture and believe it or not it turned out that the king did indeed have one more move. Morphy was able to save the young man’s game!
I parallel this story to a similar one in the Bible of the children of Israel as they faced the Red Sea. God had led them safely and triumphantly out of Egypt but along the way they found themselves in pretty much the same position as that young man’s king. They became trapped. They were facing a large body of water in front of them, mountains on either side and believe it or not, the Egyptians who had decided that they couldn’t do without them, were in hot pursuit behind them. There literally seemed to be no way of escape (Exodus 14:1-10).
At that point, God gave them a simple instruction: “Go forward” (v.15). He didn’t want them focusing on what was surrounding them, hindering them, He wanted them to trust His Word.
How many times does God give us a Word but when circumstances and situations come our way, we seem to forget what He spoke to us? We become so engrossed in what is happening around us, just like the young man in the picture and just like Peter when he took his eyes off of Jesus and started focusing on the winds and the waves raging around him. The devil knows how to intimidate us, how to scare us to the point where like the young man in the picture we become scared and confused and just plain give up! Unfortunately, we tend to focus on what is trapping and paralyzing us. But, as a child of God, the way out is ALWAYS there! Jesus is still the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He is the way out! He is the Way Maker. He is able to create something out of nothing and He will create a way of escape when it is obvious there is none! That’s what God did with the Israelites. He led them into a trap and made a way out that was impossible for human ability to achieve. God wants to remind us that with man it is impossible but with Him all things are and will always be possible (Mark 10:27).
As I write this, I am reminded of my own life. God would give me a Word but when situations and challenges come, I sometimes tend to focus on them instead of on His Word. That is when discouragement, fear, despair, the desperate temptation to quit, to give up, sets in. But, my God is so faithful and knows me so well, He knows exactly how to refocus my focus back to Him, back to His Word to me. And when I have put my eyes back on Him, I feel refreshed, energized, revived, motivated to keep going and to keep going His way not my own. God is THE way of escape and when you are His child, being trapped will NEVER be an option. So, be encouraged!
If you have not asked Jesus to come into your life I encourage you to do so now. Life is filled with opportunities to trap us and to cause us to give up. But when you are nestled comfortably and safely in the Master’s care, you can rest assured that there will always be a way out. Your “king” will always have one more move...
Picture it. You are on a road headed to some specific place or other. You may have an idea of where you are headed but to get there you have to follow this road. The road may be nice and smooth or it may be rough and bumpy. It may even be a like a nature trail with a lot of brush and undergrowth, leaves, fallen branches from trees overhead, and indiscernible creatures that you can only just hear but can’t quite see. Whatever the state of the road you are on keep this in mind: the destination is still at the END of the road, it is NOT the road itself.
Now why would I say that? It came to me that many times we probably mix up the road with the destination itself. Think about it. The destination is still at the end of the road, it is not the road itself. The road may be rocky, stony, hilly, filled with brush and undergrowth to trip you up but it is just the road you have to use to take you to your final destination. Don’t get them mixed up. Don’t stop on the road when you are supposed to be stopping at your destination.
The wilderness was the road to Israel’s destination – the Promised Land. Only a few made it. Too many got distracted on the way there. They got distracted by the road itself with its challenges. They lost sight of their final destination and so never made it. They even lost interest in God’s promise to them. They didn’t care for the Promised Land anymore because they became so focused on the path they were on and the challenges they faced there. They had no clue what their final destination looked like but they could see the road they were on and that became their focus.
Your destination is your purpose. The road on the way there may contain obstacles that will try to stop you from reaching your destination, your purpose. Don’t ever stop before reaching the purpose God has ordained for you! When we take our eyes off the destination, off the purpose ahead of us, it can be so easy to focus on the road we are on with its challenges, distresses, struggles. God never promised that the road would be an easy one but He did promise to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). As we choose instead to fix our eyes on the One who is guiding us, we can expect Him to lead us safely through every pothole, every obstacle, every challenge on the way. He can see our final destination even when we can’t. He won’t take us to a place to destroy us or harm us. We can trust that His purpose for us is a good one, an excellent one because His thoughts toward us are for good not for evil (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).
I can think of another example. David was on his way to the throne. He had been chosen and anointed by God to be the king of Israel but it was a long and difficult road to fulfilling his purpose. He was chased relentlessly by king Saul and probably wondered at times if he would survive. When king Saul finally died, David became king but only of his tribe Judah. It took him seven years to finally become king over all of Israel (2 Samuel 2:4; 5:1-5). He didn’t stop on the road to his purpose, he made it all the way to the end of his destination – king over all of Israel. Even years before that while on the run from Saul, he met a cruel, rich man, Nabal, and was treated so shamefully that he almost killed him and all the males in his household. Thankfully, Nabal’s wife Abigail, reminded David that he had a purpose to achieve and he did not do to her husband as he had planned. God instead stepped in and avenged him (1 Samuel 25:2-39).
Don’t stop until you reach your destination. Sometimes, God will even send people to remind us that we have a purpose and to encourage us along the way, to encourage us not to give up, to keep going, to stay on the road instead of coming off of it; to not give up on the hope that lies ahead, to not lose sight of what God has ordained for us to achieve. Sometimes we may even come off of the road but He will send encouragement to get us back on track.
Maybe you are off track today. The road has been so tough that you don’t care anymore for the good you know God has ordained for you at the end of this path. I am here to encourage you to not give up, keep going, get back on track; it may be painful, it may seem impossible, you may not feel as if it is worth it. But if God is calling you to it, He will get you there!!! He WILL fulfil His purpose for you. He never expected you to do it alone so STOP trying to achieve it on your own. God is there, on the road with you, carrying you, sustaining you more than you may feel or realize. So, when you can’t see your final destination at the end of the road, fix your eyes instead on the One who CAN see it and who is leading you there. And whatever you do, don’t stop on the road, keep going until you reach your destination!
If you have not asked Jesus Christ to come into your life, I encourage you to do so now. The road we are on is already a tough one and we need all the help we can get. Give God a chance today to get you to that destination, to that purpose that He has planned and ordained for you. Once He has called you to it, He will get you there!!!
Last week I looked at the bridge of the song, “You hold it all together,” by Maverick City Music. It reminds us that God is the Author of our story and that He has a hand in it.
This week, I’m looking at the chorus which says:
And I believe that I will see
The goodness of the Lord
I’m confident as seasons change
Your faithfulness remains
In Psalm 27:13 David says, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” David was being faced with various trials and challenges yet through it all he had learned to encourage himself in the Lord as he put his trust in Him. His hope wasn’t in his strength or ability to fight the battles and win. It was in his confidence that his God would take care of him. It was a declaration of faith and trust that while he was still alive God would continue to be good to him.
How many of us have that kind of confidence in our God? When the challenges come, let’s be real, it can be difficult to see God’s goodness operating in the midst of it. Recently, God has been helping me to shift my focus whereby instead of focusing on discouraging circumstances around me He is helping me to look to Him. The situation may not change immediately but as I shift my focus to my God and His ability and goodness, I actually feel encouraged, because my eyes are on the One who is the source of my strength.
Psalm 23:6 also speaks of God’s goodness: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” This psalm comes from the same author, David. What we know of David’s life is that it was a life filled with its share of attacks, enemies, fear and discouragement. I’m sure some of us can relate. Yet, it is interesting that David once again speaks of his certainty of God’s goodness in his life. Where was David’s focus? Certainly not on his troubles. Whenever challenges came he had gotten into the habit of looking to his God for help, guidance and strength. It was a life of dependence on God. It was far from perfect, but David knew where his help came from. No wonder why he was considered a man after God’s own heart!
But, let’s look at the final lines of the chorus which say, “I’m confident as seasons change, Your faithfulness remains.” I think this is the key right here. No matter what comes our way, no matter what trials we face, no matter if we fail ... God. Is. Faithful. It’s not about our faithfulness, because we fail in that area so often. Even when “seasons” change God remains the same. It is said that the only constant thing in life is change. While that may be so, the Bible says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). God doesn’t change, His Word doesn’t change. Circumstances, situations, people’s opinions can’t move or change Him, He remains the same, He remains constant. That’s a good thing, because we all need something or someone that we can rely on.
In recent times, I have found myself constantly saying that God is faithful. Yes, I am all too familiar with the expression “God is good,” but somehow because of what I have faced I find myself not necessarily disagreeing with this phrase but choosing to lean instead on the reality of how reliable my God really is. I can count on Him. He is not going to change unexpectedly on me. He won’t say one thing one minute and then something else the next. He is not going to act one way one minute and act a different way the next. Even when we don’t deserve it He loves us. Even when we can’t see why, He wants and chooses the best for us. Our God is unchanging, reliable ... faithful! When I look back on all He has done and continues to do for me I am in awe! He doesn’t have to be that good but He is. He doesn’t have to have my back, but He does! Think about it. Even on our worst days, God is there. We may not see or feel Him but He is there, faithfully loving us, faithfully guiding us, faithfully covering us, faithfully fighting for us!!!
God’s faithfulness remains...
If you have not invited Jesus Christ into your life to be your Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to make that step and allow Him to be a part of your life. In a world of change and uncertainty, we all need an unchanging, reliable God who will be there for us, who will have our backs, who will never leave us or give up on us.
God of my present
God of my future
You write my story
You hold it all together...
This song by Maverick City Music, “You hold it all together,” has been playing in my mind for some days now. There are times when I wake up to this song on my mind and it has been a source of encouragement and strength.
He is the God of my present, my future and I would even add my past. He is intricately weaving it all together for my good and for His honour and glory. I feel like my life is a puzzle and God is taking all of the pieces and cleverly fitting them together. To me it seems so disjointed at times, just pieces that don’t seem to fit together... but in God’s very capable hands they do.
I think sometimes we need to get a glimpse of God’s picture. The one in our mind is limited, fragmented, imperfect. It may even seem good enough to us, but keep in mind our vision, our picture is still limited. Our ways and thoughts are not like God’s. In fact, His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Psalm 139:16 says: “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (NKJV). I checked various versions of this verse and the New International Version caught my attention: “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” I don’t know about you, but this confirms to me the Author of my story. I may not be able to put the pieces together, figure this out or even write my own story but then ... that’s God’s job.
It encourages me because when times are tough, I can be confident that God knows the beginning, the middle and the end. He is the one who is holding it all together for me.
I think of the story of Job. Job was doing his best to live a righteous life. It seemed he was doing everything right, yet, tragedy struck. Many of us in similar circumstances question God, we wonder where He is when tragedy strikes and we wonder if He cares. Job could have thought the same thing but He didn’t. He chose not to give up on His God. The thing is, we are given insight into what really happened and why. God had not forgotten Job. God had not chosen to randomly deal him a terrible blow. In fact, when the sons of God came before Him Satan also came among them (Job1:6) and God was the one who brought Job to his attention (Job 1:8)! Was God thinking straight? Of course He was! He was the Author of Job’s story and He was about to put a little “twist” in it. But the thing is, He knew His servant Job, He knew his faithfulness to Him and He knew that Job would not turn His back on Him. His confidence in Job made it easy for Him to single him out for tragedy, not because He didn’t love him but because He knew Job would not turn His back on Him. Job’s tragedy was going to be God’s story of loyalty and character.
Whenever, I have faced discouraging situations in my life, my motivation to not give up, to keep going, has been the reality that I have used to help me make it. I have to survive because someone out there needs to hear my story and needs to be encouraged with the fact that if I could make it, so can they. So, my writing, my music, everything about me is simply God taking my past, my present and my future and craftily working it all together not just for my good but for the benefit of others. I don’t write, speak or sing for style. It is simply my story being played out before the world.
What story is God writing about you? Believe it or not, God is taking everything, your past, present and future and He is intricately creating a masterpiece for the world to see. It’s bigger than your picture that you have created in your mind. Maybe that’s why some of us are still impatiently waiting for our story to unfold. Maybe we just need to release our version of our story and allow the story God has crafted and written for us to unfold. Fear not. Every fragment, every piece, every joy, every sorrow, every success, every failure, in your past, present and future, God is holding and working all of it together for your good and for His honour and glory.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. God is our Author and Master builder. When we put the fragments of our life into His hands, rest assured, He will fit it all together to create a story, a picture that will inspire and encourage others even as their own story unfolds.
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.