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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.


You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.  Job 42:3 (NLT)

The story of Job has always been one full of questions. One is often left with the question of ‘Why?’ Why would God allow Satan to have such free reign over so devout man of God? Why would God allow someone as righteous as Job to go through the emotional pain of losing his family, or the physical pain of illness, or complete financial loss? Job’s so-called friends are of no help. They do nothing to encourage him other than regurgitating the answers religion teaches us. If things are going will you are living right. If things are going poorly it must be due to your disobedience and sin. If on the other hand you want to prosper you must obey. 

To Job’s credit he doesn’t buy into the lines of established religious thought. To the very end he maintains his innocence. He’s done all the right things. He’s been a man of integrity that no one other than Christ himself has emulated. We seek recommendations from people to show our expertise. Job’s recommendation came from God himself. Nowhere in all the earth is there a man like Job. Can’t argue with those credentials.

If there was one ‘fault’ in Job’s reasoning it was his questioning of God’s actions. You can’t blame the man. He was in deep physical pain. He was being falsely accused. He’d lost his family. Can you imagine being in so much physical pain you can’t even mourn the passing of all your children? Add to that the rejection of your wife and your friends? Job can. And he confronts the God of heaven about it.

God finally shows himself to God. While God is always the underlying theme of Scripture, when he shows himself things happen. Abraham hid his face. Moses shielded his eyes. Isaiah fell to his knees. It was no different for Job. When God showed up all of Job’s suffering and pain seemed to disappear. God became his focus. When God becomes the focus in the midst of trial everything changes!

We don’t always understand why God allows things to happen as he does. During those times we need to rely on his heart. We may not always understand God’s actions but we can always trust him to do what needs to be done. Rely on his promises. Remember that He loves you. In reality God doesn’t owe you anything. Why he does what he does isn’t any of your business and, as Job came to realize, and you couldn’t understand it anyway!

Throughout history God’s actions have been questioned, but in the end his way has always proven to be the best way.

PRAYER: Father God I confess that I don’t always understand your ways. There are times I’m afraid. Times I worry. Times I get angry at you or at the things happening around me. Life doesn’t seem fair sometimes. I ask that you would empower me by your Spirit to trust you in the darkest times of my life. Help me to trust even when I don’t understand. In Jesus name, Amen.


A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13

Christian author and speaker Charles Swindoll states, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” Each of us chooses how we will react to life and all that comes with it.

When people encounter trials in life they may try to blame someone, an ex-spouse who cheated on them and left them for some other, younger prize, a boss that refused to trust them, abusive or non-existent parents, a tough childhood.

Other people blame God. “If God is a God of love and justice why did this happen? If He is so powerful why can’t He change this situation I’m in? He must not love me or He’s angry at me, or He’s too weak or too uninterested to act.”

Still other people blame themselves. “I’m no good. I’m a loser, I will never amount to anything.”

The problem with these kinds of attitudes is that they don’t only affect the person harboring these destructive thoughts, they affect everyone around them. Everyday people wake up and make a decision (consciously or unconsciously) about the day they will have. Chances are, the decision they make will come true. If today is going to be sunny and warm with flowers all around and birds chirping, then that is probably the way the day will go.

If they decide the day will be cold and stormy with frequent flashes of lightning and hail, then you’d best hope you aren’t in the path of the storm.

Just as a negative attitude is contagious, so is a positive one. But positive attitudes that will bring change to your world have to have a solid base. ‘Happy all the time’ emotions are shallow and flaky. People will see through them right away. But a heart that is at peace in all circumstances brings calm to a situation and can even bring joy.

Positive attitudes are a choice each of us must make. Real happiness is a choice we make based on our faith belief that God is bigger than any problem that comes our way. Positive attitudes based solely on human emotion are sure to fail because they are based on human strength which will never stand during the storms of life.

As you go about your day today, chances are you will run into crabby people along the way. Hopefully you aren’t one of them! Choose from the moment you get out of bed that today will be a good day. Show it to the crabby lady behind the convenience store counter with a kind word and a smile (no matter how bad her service is).

Show kindness to the sarcastic and demeaning policeman as he pulls you over for speeding, causing you to be late for work.

Show humility to your boss when you try to explain why you are late…again.

Show patience by not kicking the dog when you get home because it’s been one of those days!

The happiness you show others will brighten their day as well as yours, plus it brings glory to God. Don’t let your reactions to others be based on the fickle, shifting sands of human emotion. How you react to them will either make their day better or worse and it’s all under your control.

PRAYER: Father I ask that you would help me to be a source of happiness and joy to each person who crosses my path today. May my life shine in such a way that Your name is glorified and the pain of others is lessened just because they crossed my path. I pray these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ, amen.


But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10

“I believe in the sun even when it is not shining, I believe in love even when I am alone and I believe in God even when He is silent” Inscription found scratched into a wall in Germany by someone hiding from the Nazi concentration camps.

It’s easy to have faith in God when you have a surplus in your checkbook. Having faith is easy when your spouse is sensitive to all your needs; your kids are well respected, academically achieving, mature young men and women; the doctor’s report comes back favorably and the weather forecast is perfect for that outdoor picnic.

If we are really honest with ourselves, all too often the level of our faith is directly proportional to the comfort level of our lives. When things go well, God is good. When things go bad then something or someone must be wrong. We can easily start blaming others, ourselves, or even God for all the bad that happens. Sometimes we even stop believing that God exists or, if he does, is unconcerned or unable to deal with our situation.

None of us have endured the pain and agony that Job experienced. Children in his day were a sign of wealth and godliness and all ten of his kids were killed in a horrible storm. He was the richest and most generous man in the region, yet had all his wealth taken from him. His body was full of painful, itching, oozing boils for which the only medicine was to sit in a pile of ashes and scrap himself with a piece of broken pottery. His community couldn’t bear to look at him so he was ignored, his friends became his relentless critics, imploring him to turn from sin and his wife, the last person he had on earth, turned her back on him. Job was a completely broken, lonely, pain-racked man.

In the midst all this pain Job testifies to his faith in God. It’s as though he says, in a voice that almost sounds like he’s trying to convince himself, “I know that He’s there. I can’t see Him. But I know He sees me. I can’t understand what I’ve done to end up this way. I followed and obeyed Him. I’ve been a good husband and father. I’ve been generous to the poor. It doesn’t matter what people think of me. This one thing I know. When all this pain is over. When the time of His testing is done. I’ll come out of this shining like gold.

The picture of gold is a picture of refining; a picture of removing all the impurities, all the faults, all the issues that may have been in Job’s character by the cleansing heat of fire. Fire is painful and ruthless in it’s purifying of gold just as trials are ruthless in purifying our character. Enduring faith is seen in the hard times of life, when everything seems to be going downhill.

Wherever you are in life, ask God to help you grow to have enduring faith. Perhaps you’ve looked back on your life and seen many times when your decisions and lifestyle have brought on the consequences you now face. Nothing you have done or anyone else has done can keep you from enjoying the peace and comfort only God can give through His Son Jesus.

Praise Him today for the fact that someday your earthly trials will be over. Someday He will show Himself to you in ways you never thought possible. You may not be able to see Him. His ways may seem to far off for you and your pain may be too great right now. But He does love you and knows where you are and wants to walk with you through the adversity that lay ahead.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. Although I’m not in nearly as bad of shape as Job, my pain is still very real. I’ve tried to find you, but I can’t. I’ve tried to fill this void in my life with all sorts of things, even things like religion, but that hasn’t worked. I thank you that you see me where I am and love me the way I am. Help me to have enduring faith as I walk this journey called life. Show me Jesus so I can follow Him. Thank you for forgiving me, in Jesus name, Amen.


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Recently I took a trip from the Midwestern USA to the California. Most of the trip was taken with clear skies allowing us to look out the window to the earth some 4 miles below us. We saw the beauty of the plains with lakes and rivers. We saw the mountains and the desert. While I was reminded of the vastness of the world and its beauty there were some things that were undistinguishable from my vantage point.

For example, I couldn’t tell how deep the lakes were; I couldn’t tell how hot the desert was; I couldn’t determine how high the mountains or hills were, nor could I tell how low the valley’s were. From my perspective it all looked pretty close to the same.

I thought of that flight when I read the words from Isaiah. God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts. We are made in God’s image and because of that we have the ability to think, reason and remember just as He does. But our thoughts are limited to what we can see in a very small segment of time and space.

We may be able to remember the mistakes and abuses and turmoil of our past. We may be able to anticipate or guess what lies ahead. But in reality, we can’t even see one second into the future! Our Father in Heaven, on the other hand remembers all the way back to our birth and sees all the way to our death (and all eternity as well!).

The things we see as major obstacles are but a blip on the screen to God because He knows the outcome. From His vantage point He knows that even though you may be struggling with something that is devastating to you, He sees the whole picture of how this event will work out.

There’s one weakness to my analogy of the plane-window-view of life and God’s view. From my vantage point I saw no people whatsoever. I didn’t see how those below me were struggling. I didn’t see the tears being shed. I didn’t see the victories being enjoyed.

That’s not true with God. He sees from beginning to end. The things we see as major obstacles aren’t seen that way by Him. But God sees each of us individually. He is able to see the deepest corners of our minds, our thoughts, our feelings and our pain.

Right now you may be going through some struggle that seems unbearable. It could be health related, financially related, relationship issues or a whole list of other things. Whatever it is that is troubling you may have led to anger, frustration, guilt, worry or doubt. Remember that God knows how things will work out. Don’t forget that He also understands Your pain, or whatever other emotion you are feeling right now.

He may not remove you from your situation, but He understands your heart and anxiously waits to comfort and strengthen you. Your Heavenly Father loves you. The more you grow in relationship with Him the more you will sense His love and strength.

PRAYER: Holy God, I can’t comprehend how your thoughts can be so vast that you can see the entire world and so intimate that you can see and understand my deepest emotions. I praise you for your greatness and your willingness to comfort me in my deepest need. As you know, I struggle with my faith in You or myself. Empower me with your Spirit to see things Your way and to trust you when the issues of my life scream at me to doubt. Thank you for loving me the way you do. Amen.

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