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We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3

walk“The first 25 feet are the hardest part of a walk.”

These words came from a friend of mine who had recently reached a milestone he was very proud of. Six months earlier he’d suffered a heart attack that nearly took his life. His doctor told him in no uncertain terms that unless he changed his lifestyle he would have another heart attack and that heart attack would most likely kill him.

The main ingredient in the lifestyle change, according to that doctor, was exercise. He told my friend that he should walk at minimum of 30 minutes a day four to six days a week. A sixty minute walk daily would be best.

My friend’s milestone? In the past six months he’d lost 40 pounds and his last health check-up revealed his blood pressure and other vitals were better than he’d had in years. The key was consistent exercise and discipline.

It wasn’t easy. As his statement reveals. There were many days he didn’t want to walk. There were days he was too tired, the weather wasn’t pleasant or he didn’t have time to walk. But he forced himself to walk because he realized his life literally depended on it. “The first 25 feet were the hardest” because that’s how far it was from his easy chair to the door!

Exercise in the physical sense isn’t pleasant for most of us. Some of us have way too many things going on to ‘waste time on that particular activity.’ However, when we realize its importance and we see our lives as depending on it, it makes it easier to make the first 25 feet.

What’s true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual realm. There are times in our lives when reading God’s word or joining with God’s people in corporate worship simply seems like too much work or a waste of valuable time.

My friend’s heart sent him a message in a very real and blatant way: Change your ways if you want to be healthy. In the same way, God sometimes allows problems into our lives in order to bring us to a point where we turn our focus towards our spiritual health with him.

Life will deal us cruel blows. There will be problems. The Bible talks repeatedly about the fact that we will encounter ‘trials and tribulation’ in life. Those struggles aren’t as important as how we react to them. We have a choice when problems come into our lives. We can either use those struggles to reject God (and thus live in frustration, guilt and anger) or we can use those struggles to learn to lean more completely on God’s power through faith in Christ and the empowerment of his Holy Spirit.

As one write said, character is formed by the following equation: Trials + Endurance = Character. Trials, in a sense are God’s part. Endurance talks of our response to the trials. Character is built when we learn to lean more fully on God as a result of the trials we encounter.

Begin your path to spiritual health by taking those first 25 feet. Get an easy translation of the Bible and begin to read it. Seek out a house of worship where the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ is preached. Don’t take your spiritual health for granted. It takes work that will pay off eternally!

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for the grace I’ve received through your son. I confess that too often I don’t take my walk with you seriously. Help me to take the struggles the come my way as opportunities to draw more fully on your power. In Jesus name, Amen.


Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 

There are certain stories in the Bible that require us to take a double take. When Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family were rescued by angels, they were told not to look back. When Lot’s wife stole a glance at the destruction going on in Sodom and Gomorrah she became a pillar of salt. God showed no mercy in this situation. We can’t really blame Lots wife from taking a look back. The fire that fell that day destroyed the lives of her family and friends. But God’s command was clear. Move on. No matter how much it hurts, it costs to follow me.

Thousands of years later, the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Philippi, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14. In the preceding verses what is he talking about? Suffering and sacrificing of all things.

One day Jesus was walking along the road. People came and proclaimed their intention to follow Him, but each one had a pre-requisite. Each had an area of their lives they wanted to hold back from Him. Theirs was not a complete allegiance but a convenient arrangement for their own good.

Grace is NOT free. Grace costs and costs dearly. It is free for us to take hold of, but that is only because the payment has been made on the Cross and is finalized through the empty tomb. Following Jesus isn’t easy. If anyone tells you that if you turn your life over to Jesus all your troubles will disappear….RUN! Following Christ may be the start of struggle.

First, you may be misunderstood by others. When you say you are a Christ-follower people may automatically assume that means you are perfect. Christ followers are NOT perfect. We are however forgiven. We may suffer, but our suffering is never as great as the suffering Jesus did for us on the cross. His suffering was physical (death) and emotional (deserted by family and friends) and spiritual (forsaken by God “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”).

 The second area of struggle may be the struggle of our own self-image. It’s human to base your self-worth on what you do for a living, the decisions you’ve made in the past, the opinions of others. It’s human, but not Christ-like. Our self-worth, our heritage and our future are not based on anything we can do in life. Who we are and what we are to become is based solely on who Jesus is and what we allow Him to accomplish during our short stay on this earth.

What do you need to walk away from today to sell out completely to Jesus? Is it a job? A Relationship? A habit? A church? Nothing on this earth is worth risking your walk with Jesus. Only through Him will you be able to break free.

The good news is that Jesus looks on the heart. He knows our faults. He knows our struggles. He knows our desires. He knows how hard it is to break free. That’s why He patiently, lovingly and graciously empowers us through His Holy Spirit to move towards freedom and complete dependence on Him. Paul finishes his Philippians statement by saying, “Forgetting the past…I press on.”

Press on today in your walk with Jesus. Ask Him to show you what needs to be released. Trust Him to give you the power to let go for Him.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, this verse is a hard one for me. I know there are areas in my life that I’m not ready to give up to You. Please forgive me for that and help me to wisely and in the power of your Spirit, move towards complete dependence on You. Keep me from looking back. Help me to always see you before anyone or anything else. 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)

For years Joshua had been Moses’ right hand man. He’d been chosen to survey the Promised Land. He’d become Moses’ spokesperson to the people. He’d learned how to lead, how to wage military battle and most importantly, how to trust God. Now Moses was dead and God chose Joshua to take the lead role in bringing Israel into the Promised Land.

Being number two in command is relatively easy. If you are an assistant to the director or an assistant coach you offer advice and do your responsibilities but the final decisions are all in the hands of the ‘boss’. As a child you follow the advice and wisdom of your parents or trusted adult advisors. As a student you listen to and adhere to the guidelines of your instructor. In each situation the final say is out of your hands.

The real challenge in life comes when you step from the role of assistant to the guy in charge. You suddenly realize that all the decisions and all the responsibility are now yours. As a teacher, the class looks to you for wisdom and guidance. As a coach, the team follows your direction and expects victory. As a parent, your children watch you in order to learn the basics of life and living.

It’s no wonder then, that when life changes occur we can become fearful, even as adults. When our parents die there can be a sense of loss and fear and the thought, “What will I do now?” when in actuality we’ve been on our own for years and have children of our own. The fear of going it alone is a powerful and sometimes crippling emotion. In whatever position we find ourselves in, when the opportunity comes to step up we can doubt our own abilities to carry on. We never really get over that need to have someone direct us and support us.

The most important thing any of us can do is to surround ourselves with a support system that won’t fail. That’s the offer God gives to Joshua and to us. A support system that will never fail us regardless of anything we do or others do to us. He promises to be our source of guidance, strength and encouragement.

People will fail you, but God won’t. Religion will fail you, but God won’t. Money will fail you, but God won’t. Education will fail you, but God won’t. Technology will fail you, but God won’t. Nothing you come across in life will keep Him from being your Go-to-Guy. As you grow in relationship with God you will find Him faithful and His wisdom unconquerable.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. There are times when I’m like Joshua. I look ahead at the task before me and am overwhelmed. I experience struggles and tragedies that discourage me. Friends and even family members have abandoned me and I feel so alone. Please help me to sense your presence. Empower me to draw close to you and learn to rely on your wisdom and strength to get through my days. Thank you for loving me. Amen.

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