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I remember it vividly. I’d had my eye on a certain truck at the local car dealership for some time. I couldn’t afford it, but had all sorts of good ‘ministry’ reasons to buy it. Finally I went in to talk to the dealer. He gave me a deal I chose not to resist. A deal that was right out of my budget range. You don’t get deals like that everyday! I signed the papers and drove it off the lot, completely ignoring the knot in my stomach. God never yells. God’s soft voice is often drowned out by the voice of desire.

Fast forward…i remember watching the repossession guy hooking my truck up to his truck and watching my dream truck being pulled away down the street.

Today is the first day of 2019! Many will be making resolutions to lose weight, eat better, spend more wisely and the list goes on. Goals are good. Plans are good. But the missing ingredient in many of our planning sessions is the ultimate question of ‘Where is God in my plans?

Each week we say the ‘Lords Prayer’ at our church. Each week we say “thy will be done” but in reality, our hearts are saying ‘my will be done.’ When our hearts are in tune with God’s heart our plans will naturally gravitate towards his desires and not our own.

Make 2019 the year that God shows himself mightily to you because you are close to his heart. Draw close to him and he’ll draw close to you.


We often don’t see God do great things in our lives because we try to do things in our power, not his. He works best when he has complete control. Our Father is more concerned about our availability than our ability!

We may not see God do great things in our lives because we doubt our ability to accomplish anything significant. It’s about our openness, not our gifted ness. 

We may not see God do great things in our lives because the things we strive to accomplish are intended for our glory not his Kingdom. We are called to build his Kingdom not our name. 

He can use you best when you are open to his working power in your life.


For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Psalm 103:14

understandsHave you ever felt like a complete and utter failure? Ever looked at what you are supposed to accomplish and realize that there I no way you’ll be able to fulfill the task before you?

A friend of mine told me about a situation he had to face at a new job he’d recently started. His responsibilities included marketing a particular event and although he did everything he could to promote it, the numbers didn’t look good. In fact they looked horrible.

“I remember losing sleep over the whole situation. Did I do enough? Would my boss see my efforts? Was my job in jeopardy? Those were the thoughts that plagued me throughout the night.”

The next morning my friend got a phone call from his boss. In the course of the conversation his boss told him several stories of his own failures as he started his business. “We’re going to stumble before we walk and walk before we run.”

My friend’s faith in himself and his job were restored that day because he realized that his boss understood what it was like to endure disappointment and failure.

That situation is an excellent example of God’s response to our own weakness. We fail on a daily basis. For some of us those failures are huge and cause destroyed relationships or consequences that will follow us for a lifetime. Some of us struggle with addictions that would embarrass us if they became public. Regardless of how hard we try to change, it’s impossible.

Not only do we struggle with weakness, a natural consequence of those weaknesses is the guilt, frustration and shame that go along with it.

When you look failure in the face for the hundredth time, remember this. You were created by the God of the universe. He knows how work inside and out. The Psalmist writes “For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” (Psalm 103:14)

Of all the reasons I believe God is good, this is perhaps the best one. He knows I’m weak. He knows how I work. I don’t need to explain myself. Even though my actions may surprise me they never surprise him. He understands me better than I understand myself.

God is good. He understands.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many ways in which I feel too weak to accomplish all I have to do. So many times I’ve failed you, others or myself. Thank you for understanding me in my weakest moments. In Jesus name, Amen.


I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

A particular hamburger chain ran a series of commercials a few years back in which an elderly woman looked into the bun of a competing hamburger chain and asked the question, “Where’s the beef?”

Today, the question may well be rephrased, “Where’s the peace?” It seems as though our world is coming apart at the seams politically, socially and spiritually. Things we once felt secure are, at best on shaky ground. Add to those struggles the fact that cancer, disease and natural disasters seem to be rampant as well and we have a pretty bleak picture of the world as we know it.

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. Those were turbulent times for our nation. Race riots, drug addiction, war protests and other social upheaval seemed to signal the end of the world…oh, yeah, and God died too! That didn’t help anything at all!

Times of unrest foster fear, worry and despair in all of us. Even those of us who ‘know’ who is in ultimate control question sometimes if he really is aware of what’s going on.

A story is making the rounds about a particular airline that went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure a woman whose son was in a coma was able to change flights (at no cost) and go see her son. The story illustrates how God works in our lives. She had no idea why she was being called off the plane. She had no idea what was going on in the background to get her to see her son. Yet, while she waited for her flight, plans were already underway to help her.

One day Jesus was teaching his disciples about terrible things that would happen to him and them in the future. Then he leaves them, and us, with this two-fold promise: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Later, his disciple, Peter would write, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)

Slide1What lessons can we learn from these two sections of scripture? First of all, trouble in this world should not surprise us. It doesn’t surprise God. In fact, Jesus has already been to your tomorrows. He’s seen the struggles. He’s seen your failures and the failures of those who have hurt you.  He’s not surprised by any of this in the smallest sense of the word.

The second lesson is that He’s already taken care of things. We should be prepared for tough times this side of heaven. Times in which we will fail, or be hurt and misunderstood. There will be times we feel completely defeated. But take heart. Jesus has overcome and through his power working through you, you will overcome too!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise to see me through what lay ahead. I’m scared, confused and lonely. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to be an overcomer regardless of what I face today. Amen.


This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

discouragedA friend of mine is a pastor in a small rural church. While the church has been in existence for over 100 years, it had fallen on some hard times and had even considered closing its doors. My friend was a ‘last hope effort’ to survive.

Chris, as I’ll call him, prayed for months that God would raise up some of the men to become the leaders the church needed to be an effective witness in the community. One day, his prayers seemed to be answered. A man we’ll call Thomas visited the church a couple times and then came up to Chris one Sunday after church and asked if they could have lunch. Later that week as they sat a table in the local café, Thomas shared his testimony of how he’d found Christ. Then he asked Chris the $64,000.00 question: “I have never been disciple and don’t know that much about the Bible. Would you be willing to meet with me to help me learn how to do that?

You can imagine the excitement Chris felt over the next months. Thomas continued to grow in his faith and became more and more involved in ministry both within the church and in the community. Then came the heart attack.

I looked at my friend Pastor Chris as his countenance fell. “It took the wind out of my sails big time”, Chris continued, “the hopes I had for ministry seemed to come to a complete stop. I found myself trying to fill the gaps Thomas had left behind. I told God he could take me out of this ministry anytime. I was finished.”

Chris shared with me how discouraged he had been over the next months. There were some small glimpses of joy in the ministry, but most of it was gone. Looking back he realized he’d built his ministry more on a person than on Jesus.

Discouragement can come to us in many ways, as it did with my friend Pastor Chris. It can sneak up on us completely unaware and knock us off our feet. Many of the things we once hold confidence in lose their allure.

Usually discouragement is completely irrational. For example, you may do a project for school in which 100 kids evaluate you. If you get 99 high grades and 1 low grade it’s easy to focus on the one low grade and not the other 99 high grades. It’s the way we are wired. We tend to see the negative far more easily than we see the positive.

Discouragement happens when we lose confidence in ourselves and our enthusiasm disappears. It can be the result of personal attacks, failures on our part or the death of someone important to us. Whatever the reason, discouragement leaves us disheartened.

Imagine what it must have been like for Joshua. Joshua was a Bible Character and assistant to Moses as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. As they neared the Promised Land, Moses died and left Joshua in charge.

Imagine how Joshua felt. Moses was the only leader he had ever known. Moses was the one that stood by him, trained him, and encouraged him. Moses made all the difficult decisions. Joshua followed his lead. Now it was his time to lead nearly 1 million people into a land known to be inhabited by fierce and powerful enemies. In the midst of this overwhelming challenge, Joshua receives assurance from God that God would be with him every step of the way.

Discouragement comes when we focus on our own ability and see the solution to our circumstances as being dependent on our own power. When relationships fail we tend to be discouraged because we think we are the only ones at fault when, in fact, relationships can only prosper if all parties are working together.

When we fail because of sin in our lives discouragement sets in because we get the notion that being morally perfect is possible and that God is disappointed in our actions. The fact of the matter is we will never be morally perfect and God is never disappointed or surprised by our actions. He not only knows our weakness, he is ready and willing to forgive us and help us through our weakness and use those weaknesses to make us strong.

We can lose confidence in life situations, or ministry (as Pastor Chris did) or our jobs, or classwork because we’ve neglected to seek God’s help or place too many expectations on ourselves. Confidence is also robbed when we compare ourselves to others rather than reminding ourselves that we are created in God’s image as his masterpiece.

Are you discouraged today? Remember that no matter what you are going through, God knows where you are, how you got there and the best way out.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, right now I find myself in a situation I see no way out of. Please forgive me for not trusting you. Please empower me through your Holy Spirit to see the way you have for my escape. Help me to focus on you rather than my circumstances. In your name I pray, Amen.

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