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Then I will shout all day, “Praise the LORD God! He did what was right.” Psalm 35:28 (CEV)

Three seconds left in the second overtime of the state championship game. The moment all of us athletes (armchair and otherwise) dream of. He’d probably pretended to make this shot a million times in his backyard. The only difference then was that this time three seconds was really three seconds and there would be no second chance.

The ball was thrown in; he dribbled to half court and let it fly. As it flew through mid-air the final buzzer sounded. By the time the ball slipped softly through the net, the game was officially over. The only difference and it was a major difference, was that when the ball left his hand his team was down by two points. Now, they were the champions.

The crowd roared. On the one side? A ‘roar’ of anguish and disbelief. On the other side? A roar of amazement and celebration.

There are so many analogies we can make to the athletic field and life. Even the Apostle Paul makes athletically based references to this journey, this race we call life. All run, few are rewarded the champions crown. All serious athletes train diligently. None enter the contest hoping to come in second. Yet only one is left standing.

Before the ball hit that gymnasium floor that day, the ‘hero’s teammates surrounded him. His name is still in the record books these 20 years later, but relatively few remember the joy of those fleeting moments. And only those of us who experienced it really understand the euphoria.

When David reflected back his life he saw the ruins of broken relationships, the scars of battles lost and the oasis’ of encouragement from his followers. But one thing reigned supreme. His God had not failed him. Ever.

David had failed. Miserably sometimes. Others had turned their backs on him and thrown him under the bus. But God had always remained faithful. It was God who walked him through the dark, lion infested fields as he tended sheep. It was God who directed the stone that day as he faced the giant. It was God who protected him from the angry outbursts of a jealous King Saul.

Our journey on earth if full of various types of battles. Some we win, some we lose. But when those battles are done there is cause for rejoicing. Even in the darkest part of the night when the storms rage we can praise Him because we know he will bring us through and we’ll be stronger because of it.

Make every day a day of praise. Celebrate the fact that good or bad, even if you don’t see the good right now, your Heavenly Father always does right.

PRAYER: Father, it’s easy to celebrate the victories of our lives, but remind us to praise you in the midst of the darkness as well because we know you always do right. Amen.


You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord. Now keep on following him. Colossians 2:6(CEV)

About the only thing I remember from my high school psychology class is an experiment run with a fish in a large aquarium. I don’t remember why it was run, but the results have stuck with me for a lifetime.

Sociologists put a large fish in a glass aquarium. The fish was allowed to swim freely about this large tank, but its food was always put in the same spot on one end of the tank. The instincts of the fish taught it that it could get food at a certain time, in a certain spot every day.

The next step in the experiment was to put a clear glass pane at the halfway point of the tank with the fish on one end and the food on the other. The fish would try to get to the food, but the glass pane prevented it from doing so. Food was placed in its normal spot but the fish couldn’t get to it. It became violent. It slammed its head against the glass in effort to get to the food but to no avail. Finally, it gave up. It simply stayed on its end of the tank. When the glass pane was removed and its freedom was returned the fish simply stayed on its end.

There are many lessons that can be taken from that experiment, but one that I think of often is how it pertains to those of us who have chosen to follow Christ. At the very beginning of our journey, we enjoy the euphoria of knowing our sins are forgiven; of realizing that someday we will spend eternity with Christ; of being reunited with loved ones on the other side.

Then adversity slips in. It can slip in under the guise of old habits. It sneaks into relationships that either intentionally or otherwise tries to pull us from our walk. It creeps in unaware through apathy. It saps our energy through expectations we put on ourselves or others put on us.

Adversity leads to failure and with failure comes a desire to try again but the glass pain of adversity thwarts us until we quit trying out of fatigue, frustration or fear. We find our little corner is comforting and we grow complacent. We know that someday we’ll be delivered. Until then we are content to stay where we are, unaware that we are growing weaker and less able to withstand the rigors of life.

It’s time to remember that when Jesus died on the cross for you, he didn’t do so in order that you can remain stagnant. Having Christ in your life isn’t a ‘get out of hell free card’. Adversity will come. Hard times will attack. There will be times in your life when you just want to quit trying. Don’t do it. True spiritual growth and strength comes when we determine within ourselves to keep up the good fight. Stumbling and falling is inevitable, but failure isn’t an option for the true Christ-follower. And the best part of all? When you fall (not if, when) Jesus is there to pick you up.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, there are so many times when I’ve let the glass pane of adversity and struggle keep me from the fresh food of your word. Empower me with your Spirit to overcome the adversity that keeps me from fulfillment in you. Amen.


I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12

A friend of mine makes the statement “You can do anything for awhile if you see the end in sight.” There is some truth to this statement. If we know the struggle we are in is temporary we know we can probably endure. For example, a runner will see the finish line ahead and often get a quick burst of adrenaline that helps to cross the finish line.

But what about in the spiritual life? What about those times along this journey we call life when we don’t know the outcome. When the doctor’s report isn’t what we’d hoped. When our children start making bad choices. When our spouse begins to drift from us emotionally. What then? If we don’t see the end in sight what helps us to keep going?

It’s during those times when life seems uncertain that we need to look at the life of Paul and his motivation for moving on. Today’s verse seems like a ‘pie in the sky by and by’ statement until we realize what had happened in the life of Paul. He’d been stoned and left for dead. He’d been lost at sea after a shipwreck. He had spent nights in the cold dark cell of prisons and, on one occasion, lived through an earthquake while underground. Relationally he was hated by many of his closest friends, held in suspicion by his new friends, critiqued for his preaching and leadership styles, and now, sat in a Roman prison awaiting execution!

So with all that history and an uncertain future what was his secret to ‘being content’? Paul had learned the hard way that God can see us through anything. What Paul is NOT saying is that life in Christ is a breeze, and void of any adversity or conflict. What Paul IS saying is that every time he came upon an obstacle he found that his faith in Jesus Christ was powerful enough to see him through!

In Christ you can do anything when you realize that whatever is going on in your life is temporary. Temporary in the sense that here on earth the worst that could happen is death, and, for the Christ-follower the best that could happen is to be transformed from this frail human body into the glorious body we receive when we see Jesus.

Learning contentment comes from seeing how God helps you through adversity. Sometimes you don’t see it until you’ve come through the fire or through the flood. Sometimes you don’t realize it until after the divorce or miscarriage. Sometimes you won’t realize it until you are on the other side of life, looking back as Paul did.

The Psalmist says (Psalm 34:8) to taste and see that the Lord is good. Until we’ve tasted of his goodness through adversity we will never learn contentment in this life.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the reminder that you know better than anyone what I’m going through right now. I don’t see even a hint of light at the end of this tunnel. I have no idea what lays on the other side. Empower me with your spirit to taste your goodness in the light of this trial. Let me look back on my life to see how you have seen me through. With you on my side I know I can ‘do anything’ because my future is in your hands. In Jesus name, Amen.


So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord! Psalm 31:24 (NLT)

Fear is an amazing thing. Its power over us can cripple us or it can motivate us. It can drive us to new heights of accomplishment or destroy our potential and perspective. The difference between success and failure is often dependent on what we do with fear.  

One time I was going through a very difficult and devastating period in my life. I was unemployed, staring bankruptcy in the face and really saw no way out. All my dreams had vanished in a period of six months. I wasn’t ‘suicidal’ but I was close.

I remember walking with a friend of mine one day. She told me she’d heard a radio show that day. The commentator on the show was talking about what one quality we see in other people’s lives that draws us to them. She then told me that when she thought about me, the one enduring quality she saw was courage.

I was shocked. I asked her how on earth she could say that courage was a quality I had. I reminded her of all the bad stuff that had happened. I recounted how my future looked bleak on the good days. Bad days were another story. I felt anything but brave and courageous that day.

Her response stuck with me though. She said “I don’t think I could go through all you are going through without going crazy or blaming God or something. I draw a huge amount of faith and strength by the way you handle the stuff you are going through.”

I’ve thought about that walk many times in the past few years and I’ve come to a couple of conclusions. First, the only way we can learn to be ‘strong and courageous’ is to test our strength. God isn’t in the business of making milk-toast followers. He’s in the business of making warriors and warriors don’t grow strong in times of peace. They get their strength from warfare. Why else would Alexander the Great cry when he realized there were no more worlds to conquer. He had run out of battle.

The second thing I realized is that often times the way we handle battles speaks much more loudly to those around us than our words. Warriors are admired simply because they know how to handle the battles before them.

When we go to battle in our own strength we have reason to fear. We are fallible and weak mortals. When we go to battle in the strength of our God we go knowing that even though we may lose a battle along the way, eventually we will become victorious. Strong courageous people are those whose strength comes from enduring the very hardship that they’d rather avoid but makes them stronger. Strong and courageous people gain strength from faith in the God of Genesis. The mighty warrior.

PRAYER: Father, as I look at my life I realize that many of the things I fear are really there to make me stronger. Empower me with your Spirit to fight the battles I face in your strength. Allow me to show your strength by going through life leaning on your grace. In Jesus name, Amen.


If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 1:19-20

Some see God as being a tyrant; some see him as being an old man who is either unable to change things or unconcerned about others pain; some see him as an angry father who will, at any moment take revenge on us for the evil deeds that we do.

When people see God in one of these roles it’s no wonder they become disillusioned, fearful and question His very existence. Most of us have plenty of people in our lives that are at the ready to remind us of our failures. What we want is a God that will tell us we are okay when we aren’t and take revenge on those who have hurt us. What we need is a God that will comfort us in our time of need.

We hear it said that God is a loving Father but then see children starving to death, women and children being abused, and medical and natural disasters running rampant. In all that we question God: “If you are a loving Father, then why?”

There are no easy answers to the why in life because as mortal, human beings we have a natural tendency to this earthly life as all there is. We have this mistaken idea that God promised us that we could have lives of peace and prosperity. Since God is love (we say) then it makes perfect sense that an all-powerful, all-loving God would make everything work out happy.

God has never promised that we’d see life without adversity. From the moment that Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God told us we would see emotional, spiritual and physical pain ending ultimately in death.

These verses in Isaiah tell the tale of two people. On the one hand we see a person who obeys the word of God and enjoys prosperity. On the other hand we see the person who has decided to go his own way and reject the message of God. The former person enjoys peace in the midst of the storm because he/she knows that this pain may last throughout our physical lives, but is well worth the reward we receive on ‘the other side’ when we join our Lord and Savior in Heaven. We live with peace in our hearts because our sins are forgiven.

The latter person, the one who rejects God may have earthly wealth and great physical health most of their lives, but inside they are empty and seeking to fill a void that only God’s message of love and forgiveness can fill.

God’s message through the prophet Isaiah is one that a loving father would tell his children. He says to us, listen to my advice. I know what I’m talking about. If you obey my word and follow Jesus you will experience pain here on earth, but one day join me in eternal joy and happiness.

If, on the other hand, you reject me, then the natural consequences of life will lead to emotional and spiritual emptiness here on earth and life separated from me in a place of torment for eternity.

The life you live in obedience now is the only way to assure a life of victory in the future.

PRAYER: Father I confess to you that at times I act like a spoiled two-year-old. I want everything for me. I want to be comfortable, be in charge and have my own way all the time. Forgive me for choosing my own way. Help me grow in relationship to you so that I can find inner peace here on earth and eternal life beyond the grave. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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