At this very moment, people we know and even some we don't, are facing serious adversities. Family's have lost loved ones, marriages are under attack, there's financial despair for others, and some are facing job stress. Not only are there personal attacks, but our world is suffering from wars, weather related calamities, and multiple difficult issues, too numerous to list.
I know people that could verbalize Paul's words from 2 Cor. 4. "We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way]........ we suffer embarrassments are perplexed unable to find a way out......; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven).......; we are struck down to the ground...;" The only difference is, Paul had a response to the problems, "We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped crushed; we suffer embarrassments are perplexed unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out destroyed;" He realized that the Greater One lived IN him. Paul was assured that the Lord was standing with him and was giving him strength. (2 Tim. 4:17) This gave him the ability to press on through.
In 2 Timothy in chapter 3, Paul said, "But know this, in the last days perilous times will come:" Yes we will face risky, harmful, dangerous periods of time. This is just a fact! So how does one handle these events in their life? What can we do to be victorious overcomers? How can we endure through all the hardships? We need the strength of God to get past the circumstances with which we face. Trying to do it in our own flesh causes fatigue, depressions, oppression, fear, and stress. Here are some spiritual exercises you can do that will strengthen your faith and encourage you to remain steadfast IN faith!
1) James 1:2-3 "My brethren, count it all joy, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." A great example of counting it all joy, is when Paul and Silas were imprisoned in the deepest darkest dungeon. Although they were chained and in pain from their beating, they expressed joy by singing praises to God! What did they have to be joyful about, you ask? They saw past their situation in the Spirit, knowing they served a big God, who would deliver them. The facts didn't define their attitude, but their attitude established different facts...deliverance! Their praises opened their shackles and set them free. It's time we praised the Lord to loose us from the chains of despair! Put on a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.
2) Proverbs 2:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways (course of life) acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths." Putting down our feelings about our problem is hard, because emotions are prominent. Taking time in the middle of the adversity to pray and focus on the promise of God's Word, will give direction and peace. In Joshua we read, that keeping the Word of God in our heart, in our mind and upon our lips, assists us in being a doer. Therefore, we will be successful and make wise decisions. Take any fear, worry or doubt cast it down, and be persuaded that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above anything you could ask or imagine!
3) Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat it's fruit." Most of us are guilty of declaring our problems, complaining and stating defeat. We condemn ourselves before God can work in our behalf. On the one hand we send forth faith in a prayer, and negate it by confessing doom and gloom. To experience the presence of His power over our circumstance, we must first believe! Test what you believe by gauging what's coming out of your mouth. Because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Repent for not submitting to God and resisting the devil. Then, make a conscience effort to practice agreeing with His Word verbally! Your confession will remind you of the action of faith necessary for affirming your faith!
Remember, that no matter the dilemma we're facing, the Word of God and prayer opens the door for God to work, and Praise will keep the door open. Don't measure what you believe by what you're experiencing. Heb. 10:35-36 "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise."
Recently we got new cell phones and a new phone service. This was a long time coming for me. The phone service we had was less than adequate, and two of the phones on the service had serious working issues. So much so, that we were counting down the days, hours and minutes till we were able to update! And when that day arrived, it was a 'Hallelujah' moment! In fact we are still praising God multiple times daily for the convenience of new phones and a working service. Several times before the change took place, I almost got weary of waiting and frustrated at the situation. There were times I wanted to take my equipment and toss it in the trash, giving up. Now, I realize we're just talking about cell phones here. But have you ever felt that way about anything in your life? Have you ever dealt with something for a very long time, waiting for a change, and got to a point where you wanted to give up? Becoming exhausted or fed-up can cause one to stop believing that there will ever be a change. Whether we are trusting the Lord for finances, healing, direction or resolve, we become vulnerable to settle for defeat.
I'm reminded of Galatians 6:9 "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not loose heart."
I know you're picturing your situation, trouble is coming from every direction. Just when you think it's going to get better, a similitude of hope, something else happens to make you feel more beat down. By this time, all you want to do is roll over in your bed, and pull up the covers. Weariness tries to enter in when the trials come hard and heavy. But Paul says, 'in due season we shall reap if we do not loose heart'! The Amplified version says, "And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint."
This Word tells us that if we remain steady, hang on to the hope of the promise of God at the determined time we WILL see the manifested blessing. Just like planting a seed in the ground, there is a 'due season' for harvest! The seed below the surface is growing roots and maturing before it breaks ground for us to see any result that it's developing. Eventually the plant matures and produces the fruit ready for harvest. Before that happens, it's not time to get impatient, loose hope, and pull up the seed, calling it quits.
Hebrews 10:35-36 GWT "So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised." This kind of hope is confident in what God said in His Word. It counts it all joy in the midst of the trials and tribulations and is expectant that God will keep or honor His promise. Resisting all weariness or defeat, never giving up, this faith is tirelessly and determinedly standing by and never lets go for what it is hoping.
The only way to acquire this kind of stamina in faith, is to renew the mind to the Word. Renewing the mind to God's Word, takes diligence. Determining to search the scriptures for the answer to our situation. Quoting, reading, and meditating on the Word. Josh. 1:8 GWT "Never stop reciting these teachings. You must think about them night and day so that you will faithfully do everything written in them. Only then will you prosper and succeed." Our dedication and faithfulness in the renewing of our mind, will produce a different way of thinking and believing. We will begin to see the plan of God unfold in our life as it emerges.
Applying the same scenario of the plant, we realize the prayers we've prayed, the faith and trust in God, is working in the Spirit to maturity. It won't be long, as we stand on the promise for our circumstance, we will begin to see the manifestation of that promise.
Whatever you do, don't loose hope, or become weary and give up! Keep faith alive!
Sailing a ship in stormy weather can be hazardous unless the captain has the knowledge and expertise. High winds and enormous waves can cause the ship to sink or shipwreck. Many a vessel has been lost due to treacherous seas. Like the tempest at sea, we are living in a troubled world. However, Jesus said "...in the world you will have tribulation..." (John 16:33) Paul also wrote in 2 Timothy, "...in the last days perilous times will come." (2 Tim. 3:1) Listening to the news we can see that we live in very dangerous, risky and unpredictable days. One who does not have the Lord as his Savior, is generally fearful and fretful. Jesus is our lighthouse, illuminating the path to safety. Through His direction and knowledge from His Word there is hope. (Heb. 13:20-21 "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to who be glory forever and ever. Amen") In light of the fact of circumstances we face, let's see how our Great Shepherd is characteristic of the lighthouse to us....
Psalms 23 says, "The Lord is my shepherd;" Making Jesus the ruler of your life, places Him as your protector, and watcher of your life. A lighthouse is guidance to safety. Surrendering to Him, just like sheep do to a shepherd, allows Him to be a guide of security. Sheep know the shepherds voice and where He leads they follow, unlike goats that question and butt everything that comes against them. (John 10:4)
"I shall not want." Phil. 4:19 says, "He supplies all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." As your Shepherd, He's going to make sure you have provision for every necessity. His supply is satisfying if we follow Him, as a ship that follows the light from the lighthouse. The Bible also tells us, He will give us the desires of our heart as long as we are delighting in Him. (Ps. 37:4) In the place of every need is supply.
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures;" When sheep lie down it means they are satisfied and content. Because we are in His presence there is fullness of joy we can rest untroubled as well as at peace, "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." (Ps. 4:8 & Ps.16:11) Even in the midst of a stormy sea the beacon shines to give us confidence and peace.
"He leads me beside the still waters." We can be sure He's leading us to a place of refreshment and tranquility. When we delight in His Word, as we meditate day and night will place us by the rivers of water which provides sustenance. Therefore, keeping us refreshed and prosperous, quenching our thirst. (Ps. 1:1-3 & Jer. 17:3)
"He restores my soul;" God forgives our iniquities and heals all our diseases. (Ps. 103:3) Regardless of how much we mess up, when we repent He forgives. Because of His infinite mercy and grace we are restored. The Holy Spirit gently signals us during times of struggles to escort us to the sanctuary for redemption.
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake." We can depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13) He will usher us in the right direction and in safety. His Name is the Lord our Righteousness, Jehovah Tsidkenu. Ps. 32:8 God says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Keeping our vision focused on Him assures traveling in a sheltered course.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death," Life is full of tribulations and temptations. One thing for sure, is we are going to the other side of the problem. But we must remember not to set up camp in depression or sorrow. We are more than an overcomer through Him. Especially when storms are raging, there's trust in His guidance. Pro. 18:30 "As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."
"I will fear no evil, for You are with me;" Paul wrote, that God didn't give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) As long as we abide in the presence of the All Mighty God, we remain in His protection and fear will not affect us. (Ps. 91) Relying on the promise of His faithfulness to never leave or forsake us brings courage and strength. (Deu. 31:6-8) Just like the light signaling lost ships gives hope.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." God's Word is the instruction we need to get us through our life. In Ps. 119:105, it says, His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. That means it will point us in the right direction daily and for things to come. If we refer to the Bible everyday, it will teach, correct, and admonish us in living. (2 Ti. 3:16)
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;" God is on our side. He will contend with those who contend with us. Although there are enemies, we will not just survive, but feast in the midst of them. We come out on top of situations because of Him. Ps. 18:3 says, we can call upon the Lord, and He will deliver us from our enemies. Our trust and faith in Him, will bring peace with any adversary. (Pr. 16:17)
"You anoint my head with oil;" The anointing of oil upon the head is symbolic of blessing, protection and empowerment. We are sanctified and set apart for Him. (1 Cor. 6:11) We are chosen to proclaim the praises of God. (1 Peter 2:9)
"My cup runs over." Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, overflowing, much more than is expected or needed. This is the blessing that spills over. We are blessed!
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;" As long as we remain faithful to God's Word, we shall be in His mercy. Ps. 65:11 says, God crowns the year with His goodness, and richness overflows wherever He is. Steadfastly abiding in the Word and His presence guarantees goodness and mercy.
"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." We have guarantee of our place for eternity when Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior. This is a promise of security in eternity.
We want to encourage you to mediate on this scripture and let it become a reality in your heart. Realize that through the Word, God has given us guidance for anything we may face. He encourages us with the promises of provision, protection, healing, blessing, and His benefits. Our failure to recognize these, believe and trust Him, and receive it, puts us at risk in these insecure days. Don't shipwreck because you reject faith and a good conscience. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and sail through to the shore. You can do all things through Him, who gives you strength. (Phil. 4:13)
A uniformed policeman stands at the scene of a traffic accident, redirecting on coming cars. No one will disobey him, because he's the one in authority telling others what to do. In the same way an officer of the law has jurisdiction in the city, we have command over the works of darkness in our life. Jesus said in Luke 10:19, "Behold I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." And in Mark 11:23-24, "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea', and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."
So why are there so many that are still confronted and overcome with difficulty, distress, and dilemma? If you are one of these and asking yourself this question, read on.
Most Christians do not know that they can take spiritual authority over situations. I would venture to say ignorance is one of the biggest reasons. Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge..." Because we aren't taught how to stand up against the 'wiles of the devil', how to recognize the attack is FROM the devil, and what to do IN times like this, we do nothing!
Another cause is unbelief! If you were to ask, some would say: "I don't believe in the devil." or, "There's no way we can change circumstances." In Luke 17:6, Jesus said, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you." But there are many who just don't believe.
Fear is also a source of not taking authority. When faced with demonic activity, a number of people are of the opinion the devil is stronger than God. So rather than DO anything, they back down and 'hide', thinking he will just go away.
Listen Children of God, He has done all He's going to do! Jesus has done all He's going to do! 1) He left us His Word (Heb. 4:12 "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword...")
2) And His Spirit (Rom. 8:11 "..if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwell in you." )
3) Jesus disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in the work of the cross and resurrection! (Col. 2:15)
4) He gave us the keys to the Kingdom (Matt. 16:19 "... and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”)
It is now our responsibility to activate our faith and the power of God concerning the tactics of the devil, using the tools He gave us. In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37) Rise up and be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might! We've got to put on the armor of God and fight the good fight of faith. We need to stand, in faith believing God's Word, when we've done all we know to do. We can not afford to lose heart, but know we possess the treasure of His power within us! Be like that policeman commanding things to line up with what God says! You're wearing the badge!
1 John 4:4 "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
It's so easy to give up. If you have ever waited for something to happen or change and the delay was lengthy, you probably wanted to stop believing that it would occur. The desire to quit can be quite pressing, if you've longed for something a great while. Getting tired and the expectation waning makes one think there's no hope of a promised conclusion. Regardless for what you are holding on, despair almost always seems to creep in. Still as we look about we can see others that seem to get their victory, although we remain clinging to hope. We begin to question ourself, then doubt and fear enter, and we decide to throw in the towel. That's it, it's impossible, we say!
Remaining steady and intent may be difficult, but not out of the question! 1 Cor. 15:58 says, "Therefore my brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." Faith is what pleases God. Often to stay in faith we must encourage ourself. After all we are with ourself more than anyone else. The chances for others to stir us up is highly doubtful. They will probably tell us we might as well give up, because we've been waiting "forever", and if it was going to happen, it would have by now. When Paul wrote the Corinthians this letter, he was trying to stimulate their faith to have an unshakable attitude. The perspective that it doesn't matter how prolonged the situation, belief will not falter. It's like taking a glass and super gluing it to a table, so that when the table is shaken, it will not fall over. One could pick the table up and hold it upside down and the glass will not be moved! That's the type of attitude we need when believing God. Convinced to the point that whatever tries to rattle us, mentally or physically, we continue to be anchored to the Word of God and His promise.
Paul again wrote in Philippians, to "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7) Persistent thankful prayer to God, helps activate faith, by expressing we believe we have already received the request. Therefore bringing God's peace that exceeds anything our heart or mind can produce. Because when we believe we are in possession of faiths end, there is perfect peace.
Our desire is to encourage you to stay super glued to the promise to which you are believing! Don't give up! With all your might grab onto faith and know that you will receive if you do not quit! Resolve to hang on like you've never done before. Like Paul says, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong." (1 Cor. 16:13)
Have you ever felt as if everyone and everything was coming against you? Your thoughts being bombarded with condemnation, telling you it's all your fault and that you're a complete mess up! And no matter how hard you try to fix it, you're not getting out of it? Let me tell you right now, you have invisible enemies! Ephesians 6:12GWT tells us, "This is not a wrestling match against a human opponent. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world." Our opposition isn't coming from people. It's what's behind the problem - unseen forces trying to kill, steal and destroy your hopes, dreams and faith. (John 10:10)
1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." One of my favorite minister teachers said, interpreted the verse like this: "You must be constantly alert and on your guard! The devil, like an accusing lawyer, will try to charge you will all kinds of arguments and accusations. You need to know that he is like a lion on the prowl, constantly walking around, roaring, with a deafening sound, earnestly seeking the kind of person he can completely consume and slurp up!" (from Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner)
These powers from the supernatural realm are assaulting with depression, defeatist attitudes, hopelessness, worry, fear, discouragement, distress and the like. Does this sound like you? The problem is that most people don't recognize 1) it's coming from the devil and 2) there's a way of escaping this! (1 Cor. 10:13)
If you want to become free from any attack of the devil, here's what you can do!
1) James 4:7 "Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you." Submitting to God means, prayer and reading or studying the Word. We must know about the authority God and Jesus has given us and how to operate in it. (Luke 10:19) Just sitting in your room and thinking God's going to zap the devil, isn't going to change anything. He is not in control. If He was, He would have control over the evil. God has done all He's going to do through the power of the cross and Jesus' resurrection. Resisting something takes determination and a firm stand. A great example would be a dieter that is refusing to eat cake. Closing his eyes and pretending the cake will go away won't work. He must strongly fight against the urges to eat the dessert. To combat the tactics of satan's attacks, it requires a purposeful persistent opposition. The decision to cast down all imaginations that don't line up with the Word and a commitment to remain dedicated to confessing the scriptures. With this type of perseverance you can win every time!
2) Walk in the Spirit! Galatians 5:16 says, "...walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." By saying walk, we are implying that we need to live our life, make it our behavior or habit to be in the Spirit. One who 'walks in the Spirit', is asking the Holy Spirit for direction, listening and heeding His instruction! Saying what God's Word says, rather than talking about the problem. Walking in the Spirit means we're not participating with things that are contrary to the Word of God! It's control over the flesh!
3) And when we've done all to stand, stand! (Eph. 6:13-18) In other words, after doing everything in the Spirit we know to do, taken our authority, prayed in the Holy Ghost, and resisted the devil, we stand convinced that things have already changed. Why? Because we've acted in faith. And faith is the things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Faith is calling those things that be not as though they were, running the course with endurance, and never let go strength. It keeps it's eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of faith. Praise and Worship is in our mouth because we believe we have already obtained victory. And when the invisible enemies come, we are already convinced that we are more than conquerors through Christ!
We encourage you to fight the good fight of faith, stay true to your course, never give up, know that you're an overcomer through the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony above the invisible enemies!
Many years ago while in Arkansas ministering, we visited a secluded farm. The sole purpose of going there was to get some blackberries. Fresh picked fruit is the best. We each sought out a bush and began to pick. Pastor Michael found an extremely large one that had the biggest berries, we'd ever seen. He began to choose the choicest ones and his small container filled fast. While gathering, he noticed deep within the giant bush there were even bigger berries. As he carefully tried to move the vines to avoid the thorns in order to reach in, an unsuspecting branch swung over and hit the hand holding the container. Just then all the berries, he had so thoughtfully gathered spilled to the ground, in the middle of the bush. Now all the huge fruit, he so cautiously harvested was scattered and his receptacle was empty. What had taken him twenty minutes to collect was gone in seconds. So disappointed in the loss, he looked around and found an abandoned fence post. He took that post and began to beat the bush, until he made a hole wide enough for him to crawl into. He picked up his little can and on his hands and knees, he wriggled into the bush to begin picking up all his lost fruit. He began to say, "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" All of a sudden an audible voice, that only he heard spoke to him and said, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." When he heard this, he paused, but within a second later was back in picking and saying "I picked these berries, they are mine, and I'm going to have them!" Again the voice spoke a little bit louder to him, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Once more he paused and listened, but quickly began pressing in to get all that fruit he so much longed for. Then the third and final time the voice spoke, "When you seek Me like you're seeking these berries, you'll go straight to the top." Just at that moment he realized he had heard the voice of God. It wasn't until much later that evening that he became aware of thorns that had pierced him in his ears, legs and arms that he hadn't noticed during his berry quest. If one desires something, a focused determination will bring it about, although there are 'thorns' trying to hinder.
Some learning aspects of this experience, would be:
1) "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." (Mat. 6:33) Just like in this illustration, what a man seeks is the direction that will be leading him. Becoming so ingrained in something, can be positive if seeking the right thing. God first! If one is on the hunt for their own desires, success, fame or fortune, they can get off course and self driven, which leads to trouble. And when God speaks, it's often difficult to hear Him because the attention is based on our own passions. Grasping the attitude of Kingdom business and righteousness first, means all the things that God has for us will fall in line. Our needs and wants will be fulfilled if we give Him and His desires priority.
2) Being extremely committed and focused, to the direction God has for you, will desensitize distractions. Heb. 12:1-2 says, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." Pastor Michael was zeroing in on his task at hand: "Pick the berries". His intention was to get the biggest and best at any cost. It didn't matter that the bush had thorns or that they were piercing his flesh. With tenacity and purpose he pressed in despite any obstacle. We should be that persistent when it comes to our faith! Regardless of what comes against us, others conversation, deceptive speculations, or discouragement, our resolve to keep on keeping on should prevail.
Listen people of God, life has many distractions and lots of daunting events. There's going to be 'thorns' along the way. It's what we do in the midst of them that determines what kind of person we're going to be. We can notice every little "owie" or chose to keep our vision centered on God and His Word. One thing we do, is believe what God said above any circumstance, despite how we feel or what we see. We purpose to live daily in agreement with God, which means saying what He says and thinking what He thinks. Is it easy? NO! But if you resolve to be consistent and tenacious, you will not only grow up in Christ, but not even notice the "Thorns".
If you've ever gone through, or are going through, a hard time and wondered how to break free from it, this message is for you! We've known a lot of people that have experienced hardships of all kinds. We have also undergone these 'storms', but however intense the trial, with the grace of God we overcame! Praise God for Psalm 34:19 "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivers him out of them all." If anyone thinks he is impervious to tribulations, he is wrong. Jesus said in John 16:33 "...in the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
These so called 'storms' are all a part of life, which sometimes come from our disobedience to the Lord. A good example is Jonah in the Bible. (Jonah 1-4) His disobedience caused him to undergo 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a whale. God had instructed him to go preach to the people in Nineveh. But Jonah didn't want to. Have you ever had God tell you to do something that you didn't want to do? Maybe it was because you didn't want to see God do His miracle power for someone you were upset with. It could be you were just wanting your own way. What ever the reason for disobedience, it brings a harsher intolerable condition, thus Jonah in the belly of the whale. So how do we escape from this type of 'storm'? Repentance! Asking for forgiveness and compliance with His instruction will bring you deliverance. It's the only way!
Other types of 'storms' come because we are obeying the Lord. Yes, often times the devil will cause tumultuous times because you obey God! Looking at Matthew 8:23-27 Here's a story where Jesus and His disciples got into the ship to cross the sea of Galilee. Although great (mega, intense, fierce, one scholar used hurricane proportions) winds arose and waves began overtaking the ship, Jesus fell asleep. Perhaps the 'storm' you encountered was so severe and overpowering that it caused you much fear. You may have felt that Jesus was sleeping during this drastic moment. And it seemed like there was no way out. But just like in verse 26, Jesus arose and rebuked the storm, we also need to rise up in our situation and rebuke the 'storm'. In Luke 10:19, Jesus gave us power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over ALL the power of the enemy. When we are obeying the Lord in our call, we have the right to exercise authority in Jesus Name! After that comes peace and calm.
Perhaps a 'storm' has arisen during a time you've been under the authority of a person on assignment. This could be when your at work, in school, or involved in a church. You may have tried to express a leading from the Lord regarding a matter, but they wouldn't listen. It was afterwards that all chaos broke loose, just the way the Lord showed you. Yet, now you're stuck in the mess because authority wouldn't pay attention. This same type of thing happened to Paul, the apostle, when he was on his way to Rome. Being held prisoner by authorities, he tried to tell them not to sail, because the Lord revealed to him pending disasters. (Acts 27) So how can we get out of the storm? First thing, is perseverance! We must remain steadfast in faith, in love and in the Word. Secondly, pray for all those involved, especially the leadership. God will intervene and save you and those connected.
Whatever type of 'storm' you battle, know this, there is a way of escape. Recognize that in the midst of every attack there's something to gain and victory is yours. Rom. 8:28 "We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose." Discern the storm you're facing with the Word of God and discover your way to victory to escape from the storm!
Of all the creatures on earth I believe the less stressed is the snail. Seriously, think about it, the snail, as slow as he is, still made it to the ark before the flood. He wasn't stressing about making it! The pressures of daily life, whether it be the job or family oftentimes can be overwhelming. With the need to accomplish what's been set before us or the tasks we've chosen, stress can enter in to affect us causing illness. Too often people tend to put more on their plate than they can effectively handle. Or because of the tender nature of some, responsibilities are often added to them by leadership. All this adds stress related emotions.
The work before us, isn't easily ignored, especially when it involves others, assignments or impending target dates. The tension of fulfilling the mission usually mounts as more duties are assigned and the schedule narrows. So how does one handle stress on a day to day basis?
I am reminded of 1 Peter 5:7, of which I like the Amplified version, "Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." I liken casting to 'heaving, throwing, or flinging'. And of course Peter didn't say, just throw part of your care...he said the 'Whole of your care'! That's all the 'how's it going to turn out, how's it going to get done, IS it going to get done, and how am I going to do it' thoughts. Then he indicates 'once and for all'! In other words, do it once and leave it! Don't take back the worry or questions. Leave them in the Lord's lap.
Doing this is very difficult for a lot of people, because they want to be in control. I think some people believe God's not interested in the 'little' BIG stuff in our life. I call it 'little' BIG stuff, because in the scheme of it all, there are bigger and grander problems than these things we call BIG! Our nature is to make mountains out of mole hills, thinking the world will fall off of its axis if we don't complete something. If the truth be said, generally it's us that determine the degree of significance. (I'm not talking about those large events with time constraints involving hundreds of people. In those cases, we just need to activate time management or delegation. Remembering we can't do everything ourself.) Regardless of the measure of importance, we should cast the whole of our care, once and for all over on Him!
Here are some helpful points to rid yourself of stress or anxiety in your life.
1) Pray! Yes, it's come to that! Prayer IS 'Casting'. It's taking whatever's confronting you and giving the guardianship of it to God. Pro. 3:5-6NIV "Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths." In more ways than not, God has the perfect way to accomplish your task at hand! You just might be surprised at the answer He has for getting it done!
2) Thank God for taking your care! Phil. 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Thanksgiving is where faith is activated. When we thank Him for the answer before it arrives, that means we believe He's given us the answer.
3) Renew your mind to the Word. In other words, find some scripture to meditate on. Phil. 4:8 "Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things." Instead of thinking about all the problems and all of what you cast over to God, find the good things about your situation to reflect on.
and 4) Praise the Lord. Praise is acknowledging what God has done, what He is doing and what He will do! It's important to know that Praise always precedes God's power. (Read 2 Chron. 20:21-22) Your praises to God will open the door for things to change and answers to come in behalf of your situation. God always sits upon the throne of praise we build. (Ps. 22:3)
I know that if you incorporate these points in your life, your stress will leave, peace will come and the help you need will arrive. Praise the Lord!
Imagine this, you're moving along in life, going to work, living happily with your family. Everything seems real fine! You've got your bills paid, and a little money put away for a rainy day. You and your family are healthy. You live in a nice house, drive a cool car and can afford to have a few luxuries. It seems life is treating you real good. Then 'wham' right out of no where, a problem hits. You've always considered yourself to be a person of faith, praying regularly, attending church when you can and even quoting Bible scriptures. But now there's a serious issue that's staring you right in your face. It's so severe that you don't know who to turn to for help or how to confront it. It seems over whelming and unsolvable. What are you going to do?
Regardless of any type of difficulty there's always one solution, God. Yes, I know a lot of you are saying, "Really?? Are you for real? Of course you'd say God, your a preacher. But what about us normal people?" Ps. 56:3 says, "What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You (God)." Let's face it, is there anyone that can fully dispel fear, anxiety, frustration or give a sense of calm in the midst of turmoil? No! All the friends and family around can only sympathize, empathize, and express their opinions. Not one individual can completely ensure peace in the heart of a situation. Generally most people want to try to solve the dilemma on their own and really think they have the answer. Yet, when in the middle of adversity, no matter what we try to do, there's still the feeling of despair and questions of resolve.
The Psalmist wrote, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Ps. 27:1 What that verse is really saying is, the Lord God is our deliverance. He will deliver us out of the situation. Personally, years ago we were faced with a serious lawsuit. A man who willfully injured himself while working for us, sued us for millions of dollars. We sought out legal counsel and help, but there was not one attorney in that town who would help. It seems the judge that normally handled these types of cases, always sided with the injured worker. In the words of the attorneys, we were doomed right from the start. But not heeding their counsel, we decided to take the problem to the 'Higher Court'. Our Almighty God. We prayed and asked the Lord God to intervene on our behalf. On court day, we showed up without an attorney prayerfully and in faith believing for the 'deliverance' by our God! Much to the courts surprise the judge that entered the room was not the original one scheduled. A different judge took this court because the other judge was unable to attend. And yes, you guessed it, she ruled in our favor! God mediated!
The second half of Ps. 27:1 says, "...the Lord is the strength of my life...." That word strength is defense. He will come to your defense. Just like in our court case, beyond any of our control,God turned the problem around protecting and defending us. Despite all difficulty He by the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.] (Eph. 3:20Amp) God IS the answer to any problem, situation, disaster, trouble or dilemma you may be facing. We urge you to seek Him out. Pray for His intervention. He will come to your aid and defense! Of whom shall you be afraid?
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."