When we are in a trial, our first reaction is to ask, “How can I get out of this?” It’s human nature to want to run away, to get out of a difficult situation instead of going through it. Psalm 34:17 tells us, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” But deliverance doesn’t always come as quickly as we would like. So what can we do while we wait for our time of deliverance? The Word tells us what we should do: “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart, his steps do not slip.” (Psalm 37:30)
So, if our mouths are to utter wisdom, is it wise to speak negative things while enduring a time of trial? Is it wise to complain or express doubt about the situation? God loves justice, so it would be right to speak out that God is going to bring justice to your situation. His Word, the holy scriptures, should be in our heart so that we will not stumble or fall. “Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” (Psalms 119:11 NAS) Find scriptures that speak positive, hope-filled things to or about your situation and read them over and over. Meditate day and night on them. Write them down. Carry them with you to work, as you go about your day. The enemy of our soul is always right there putting doubts and bad thoughts in our mind, so we have to counteract those messages with God’s word. Psalm 37:23 tells us, “The steps of a man (woman) are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way, though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” And I love the next verse which says, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”
King David struggled through many tests and trials throughout his life, yet out of these trials he wrote most of the Psalms which offer so much real-ness and encouragement for anyone who is struggling. Read the Psalms and mark the verses that relate to your situation and that will encourage and bless you as you wait upon the Lord.
You may feel overwhelmed by the trial you face. Maybe you have lost your strength from fear or discouragement and you think it’s impossible to pull out of it all. God’s Word will strengthen you. As you meditate on His Word, your thoughts will begin to line up with God’s thoughts. Hebrews 12:12-13 offers valuable instruction from the Lord: “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” This, to me, is a picture of worship. Put on some praise and worship music and get yourself up and lift your hands up and worship the Lord. Sing out words of praise despite how you feel. You may even need to jump and dance, get your feet moving as you worship! Isaiah 61:3 paints a wonderful picture of this: “. . .to grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
Find reasons to praise the Lord in the midst of your trial. It’s easy to speak out the negative things, the hopeless things, so you will have to make a conscious decision and effort to think of the things you have to be thankful for and to offer your praises to God. In praising Him, you will open the door to be led by faith instead of doubt and unbelief. God has given all of us “The measure of faith,” but it is up to us to exercise it and allow our faith to grow.
Ask your friends or a close family member to help you be positive, to help you stay focused on God’s Word instead of your problems. If you don’t have any one close to you who can support you in this, pray for God to bring a prayer partner into your life. We all need support in difficult times.
In everything we do, in everyday life, we are faced with choices. The choices we make always begin with our thoughts; we then act on our thoughts and live them out. So it is important to examine the choices we make throughout the day. God has given us all the ability to choose how we’re going to live and what we’re going to think. Use the power God has given you to choose His way for you.
King David’s statement of faith, recorded in Acts 2:25-28, is still true for each of us today: “I saw the Lord always before me, for He is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” His presence will make you glad, so make room in your day to focus on Him. As you reach out to God, He will make Himself known to you and will give you His peace that is beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7) and fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy (Job 8:21 NIV).
Another important thing we can do while facing tough times is to reach out to others. When we help someone else who is in need, we think less of our own problems and gain a personal blessing by being of service to another. In the words of the Lord Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Let’s pray together:
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are truly my Father, so I come to you as your child. Please help me to keep Your Word before me and to lift praises to You in spite of how I feel. Help me to see and learn all that You want me to see and learn in this trial. I open my heart and mind to you. Please fill me and touch me in my time of need. Show me others I may reach out to and help so I can be a blessing. Thank you that you hold me in Your loving hand and You are watching over my life to perform something good, even something great, as I learn to trust in You every step of the way.
I ask this all in the mighty name of Jesus Christ,
Except as noted, all scripture references are from the English Standard Version.
By Sherry McPherson | March 25, 2009 8:51 am |
The title of this message is taken from James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The first time I read these verses I couldn’t see how doing this could be possible. As life moved along, I endured many difficult trials, and I’ll admit I wasn’t successful in “counting it ALL joy” as James instructs. But before you agree whole-heartedly let me say that I believe there is something in “counting it all joy” that is possible for us to walk in. Let me start by sharing a personal experience:
I was lying on a small cot in the hospital room near the bed where our three-year old son, Mathew, lay sound asleep. Just two months after turning three, our first-born son began having seizures. After several of these episodes, a neurologist ordered E.E.G.s, brain scans and medications. This particular night was spent in the hospital after Mathew had endured numerous tests, all showing a normal brain.
I lay there unable to sleep, my heart racing from fear, my mind cluttered with doubt, confusion and the dreadful “what ifs.” In the midst of the turmoil, I uttered desperate prayers, crying out to the Lord for help, for mercy, for an answer. Suddenly, I heard a sound that seemed to envelope my entire head where I lay. It was unlike anything I had ever heard. It didn’t frighten me. There was a settling peace within the sound. It was like the sound of what I would imagine Angel wings making as they fluttered back and forth. As I heard this sound, a strong presence of the Lord came over every part of me and I heard a voice speak softly, “Mathew is going to be fine.” At that point I was in a soft whirl-wind of peace that settled everything in me, and I drifted off to sleep.
But the trial of seizures continued for seven long months, testing our faith, our spiritual strength, and our commitment to following God. Testing us more than anything we’d ever experienced before or since. I wondered, “Is there something we’re going to gain from this? Lord what do you want us to learn? Can we hurry up and learn it and bring this whole thing to an end?”
Medication after medication was tried with no success. The seizures increased, and toward the end, Mathew was seizing every few seconds. At this point, the Neurologist gave us a devastating prognosis: “I think your son has a rare brain disease and won’t live past the age of five.” Matt and I had been claiming promises in God’s word, we had been feeding ourselves with the Holy Scriptures, and when the doctor announced his diagnosis, my first thoughts went to these words, “I will not believe the report of man, I will believe the report of the Lord.” I remembered those soft words spoken to me in the hospital, as well as many scriptures of promise.
A few years before, I had experienced God’s divine healing in my own body, so as Mathew’s condition grew worse, everything in me was clinging to the promise, “God’s going to heal Mathew.” Even though I had all of this, I still had many opportunities to doubt those words. We are so moved by what we see and it is difficult to “Speak to that which is not as though it were.”
Matt and I had many godly people around us praying for us and Mathew, believing for God to heal Mathew. We are so grateful for such tremendous support. At the end of the seventh month, there was breakthrough, and Mathew was healed. Leading up to Mathew’s healing, we had begun seeing another Doctor. He not only confirmed the healing, but still says to this day, “God healed your son.”
Throughout this very difficult trial, we turned to God’s Word and to worship. While Matt was at work and I was home dealing with the situation, in order to avoid giving in to fear, I had to focus on God’s Word and lift up praises with worship and singing. Before putting Mathew to bed at night, I would read the Bible to him and then he and I would worship the Lord together. Many times we would be engulfed in God’s presence as we lifted up our “sacrifices of praise.” Mathew’s small hands would be lifted up as he worshiped in-between seizures. Isaiah 61 begins, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” These words were quoted by Jesus in Luke 4:18-19.
The ultimate test for us came before Mathew was healed. Matt and I had to come to the commitment that even if God doesn’t heal Mathew, we would still serve Him. It was just days after we made this commitment that everything turned in another direction toward Mathew’s healing. Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” We couldn’t rejoice in our son’s suffering, but we could rejoice in God and who He is in our situation. This was powerful for us to grasp. Matt and I received great encouragement from many of the Psalms. I love the words in Psalm 44:1-2, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge. . . .” We felt the battle of the enemy of our souls. Satan wanted us to give up and give in and lose hope.
What I love about King David is he was so real and honest about his emotions and struggles. I could relate to his words in these verses: “Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy! Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, because of the noise of the enemy. . .My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, Oh that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; I would hurry and find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest. But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.” (Ps.55) “Oh God, save me, by your name, and vindicate me by your might. O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth. Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them. I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good. For he has delivered me from every trouble and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.” (Ps. 54)
What I appreciate about David is that he was honest about how he felt and what he was thinking, but he always came back to praising God and remembering His goodness to him.
It’s true that this life can dish out tough times where we are left with a desperation for God to send the breakthrough, our victory. Matt and I had many victories within our own hearts before Mathew was healed physically. We had spiritual surgery within us in the trial and testing. And we can “Count it ALL joy,” knowing that God will work good things out of every situation and He is ever working within us to make us more like Him.
Dear Heavenly Father, you are so wise, all knowing, you know everything about us and you know what needs to be rooted out and what needs to be formed in us. Please help us in these times of trial and testing of our faith that steadfastness will be produced in us and we will be complete, lacking nothing in YOU. Help us to never go back to who we were so we can become all that you want us to become. Thank you that we are never alone, that you are with us helping us through every hardship. Help us to stand on your Word and promises and to know that You are faithful and You will see us through.
We ask this all in the blessed name of Jesus,
*All scripture references are from the English Standard Version
By Sherry McPherson | July 24, 2008 9:04 pm |
How real is our worship?
Do you sense the presence of God when you worship? Do you only worship at your church on Sundays? The most significant benefit of our worship in a service is connecting with God. Going through the motions and not entering in with our heart will not satisfy. God created us with a need to worship. If our worship isn’t devoted to God, we will allow other things to take the place of His worship. Such as: TV, sports, video games, work… We must not allow the things of this world to replace our worship time with our Lord.
How can we improve our worship?
Life today has so many demands on us. We are going in a fast pace, often in several directions in a given day. When do we have time for God, for studying His word and for personal worship time? Only YOU can slow down your train, only YOU can arrange your day and fit in time for God. After all, it is a matter of spiritual “life or death” for us.
Here are some tips that help me in my personal worship time that you may find helpful for you:
1) Make the choice to get up earlier and spend time with the Lord, read, pray and worship, even if it’s just 15 minutes.
2) Write a scripture down and put it in your pocket or purse and pull it out and read it throughout the day. This is meditating on His word, and be sure to thank Him for speaking to you through His word.
3) Worship and pray in your car on your way to work/school instead of listening to the radio or your favorite music.
4) Think of ALL the things to thank God for. No matter what you are dealing with or going through, you CAN find things to be thankful for and praise God in. Get your mind off of the negative.
As you take time for personal worship, just you and God, you will find your worship time at church becoming more meaningful and you will find yourself entering in to worship in a deeper way. He desires “intimacy” with us and this requires “time alone” with our Creator.
King David was a worshiper. He put worshiping God first. It wasn’t because “it was his thing,” or “he had the gift of worship.” He was reflecting the heart of God. There are so many scriptures in the Psalms, many of them were written by King David that reflect worship and praise to God. Here are a few:
Psalm 89:15 says, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence, O Lord.”
Psalm 138:1-3 says, “I give You thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing Your praise; I bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word. On the day I called, You answered me; my strength of soul You increased.”
Psalm 136:1-2 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for His steadfast love endures forever.”
Psalm 135:1-3 says, “Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord, give praise, O servants of the Lord, who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God! Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to His name, for it is pleasant!”
Psalm 103:1-5 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
And then the Apostle Paul teaches in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
God desires our worship. It’s not like He’s sitting up in heaven saying, “You had better worship Me OR ELSE.” No, the beautiful reality about God desiring our worship is, when we seek Him in worship He responds by pouring His blessings back to us in return. IT’S A WIN-WIN SITUATION!!
Commit to be a “Worshiper” and see what God can do!!
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I realize that worshiping you is an important part of my walk with You. Please help me to put You first in my day and to keep Your word before me. Thank you that your word reminds me of my need for You and Your desire to have my worship. Thank you for lovingly drawing me to You and for all of Your benefits. I pray this all in Jesus name, Amen!
By Sherry McPherson | February 26, 2008 5:10 pm |