Speaking to the Trouble
Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake." And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!"
In this passage of scripture, God doesn’t want us to simply admire how Jesus exerted power over the storm. Jesus was actually giving us an example of how to live our everyday lives above the storm. When Jesus spoke the words, “Let us go over to the other side,” it speaks to the daily tasks that each of us tackle. With God’s help, He wants you to positively look forward to and accomplish the things that He has placed in our hearts.
As the story unfolds, the wind comes up and begins to fill the boat with water. Despite the presence of Jesus on the boat, the disciples feared for their lives and panicked. Jesus got up and spoke to the wind and waves giving us the example of speaking His written Word over the wind and waves of our lives. When faced with difficult times, trust His Word and speak it over your life. When fear was evident, Jesus said, “Where is your faith?” Personally, take it to say, “What are you trusting in?” And “Why are you not opening your mouth to speak God’s Word?” Don’t speak words like the disciples of, “we are perishing.” Instead, open your mouth and declare the promises of God.
Ask yourself today:
Lord, with your help I can and will do what you want me to do.
I will move forward today with anticipation as we “go to the other side.”
I commit to strengthen weak areas of my life with Your Word.
Instead of speaking negatively, I will speak Your Word to my life.
When I do, the storms will subside and You will give me victory.
In Jesus’ Name.
Rising Through the Trouble
Worry weighs a person down; and an encouraging word cheers a person up." (Prov. 12:25)
People in the north country must constantly be aware of the danger of falling into depression because of lack of sunshine and days upon end of seemingly constant cloud cover. Depression means to be flattened vertically or dispirited. The Bible word for depression means “heaviness.”
As Christians, cares and anxieties can bring us down because some of the toughest battles you will ever fight will be those in your own mind. One translation says, “Heaviness in the heart makes it stoop.” A person who is stooping down must make an effort to lift themselves or they will remain in that position.
During the ministry of Jesus, He quoted Isaiah 61:1-3, saying, “Today this is fulfilled in your ears.” The highlights of the passage read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed me.... to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness....”. Simply, Jesus came to exchange our sadness and mourning for joy. And He came to give us an attitude of praise in exchange for a spirit of depression. Naturally speaking, you have to put a clothing garment on your body for it to cover or warm you. Spiritually speaking, you must put on the garment of praise by opening your mouth in thanksgiving and worship to God.
In yesterday’s devotion, we discussed the need to trust the instrument reading of God’s Word versus what you feel. An additional aspect is this: An instrument rated Christian will also rejoice in the midst of trouble. They will allow praise to lift them and cause them to rise above their apparent struggles. An aviation instructor will naturally encourage his students to “keep the nose of the plane up,” knowing that failure to do so could result in tragedy. A plane has a natural tendency to fall if you let it. Your spiritual life has a natural tendency to flatten out if you are not careful. To compensate for this tendency, you must learn to “keep your nose up” and change your outlook on life.
Simon Peter walked on the water to Jesus. Yet, as miraculous as that was, it ended when he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the wind and waves instead. Jesus immediately caught Peter and said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31). When you begin to look at circumstances instead of the trustworthiness of God’s Word, you too will begin to sink and the nose of your plane will begin to dip. It is at that moment that you must begin to look up in praise, remembering Jesus. It is then that you will rise above the troubles in your life.
Lord, I will guard my life against heaviness and depression.
You came to give me joy instead of sadness.
You came to trade my depression for an outlook of praise.
I will rejoice when trouble comes knowing that you are ever with me.
I will keep my head up.
I will keep my eyes on Jesus and rejoice in the midst of the storm.
Help me to keep my nose up today, in Jesus’ Name.
Growing Through Trouble
There is a special group of people who have chosen to homestead and make a like for themselves in the remote parts of Alaska, apart from the rest of society. These homesteaders preparing for the harsh winter to come in a variety of ways. They store up firewood or food provisions. Spiritually speaking, someone once said, “If your mouth will feed your heart faith when you don’t need it, then your heart will feed your mouth faith when you do need it.” In essence, we should always be fortifying our faith, even when we don’t see a need on the horizon.
Paul did not deny the presence of trouble in our lives when he said,
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed - always carrying about in the body the dying of he Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10)
In Ps. 91:15, the Lord speaks,
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”
Some naive people talk as if troubles don’t exist, when even our Heavenly Father promises His deliverance when we do find ourselves in trouble.
Troubles will come and our faith will be tried and tested, but it is through preparation that we can successfully navigate the stormy times ahead. And in order to be ready for the storms of life such as sickness, accidents, financial disaster, and marital difficulties, we must be prepared by spending quality time in the Word of God.
God spoke these words to Joshua,
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." (Josh 1:8)
In the aviation world, there are pilots who study and spend extra hours getting their instrument-rated license. As a result, no matter the storm or challenge in flying, or lack of visibility, an instrument-rated pilot can still fly his jet with the use of the instruments only. On the other hand, a regular pilot avoids the storms and will perish because he hasn’t taken the extra time to get that type of training and license.
Paul wrote, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7). We should be depending on the surety of God’s Word versus what our senses would lead us to believe. The more that a pilot has learned to depend on his aviation instruments, the more confidence he has in them. In the same way, the more opportunity you and I have to trust in God alone, the more confidence we will have in Him. Choose to place your confidence in God’s promises versus what the circumstances in your life are telling you.
Lord, help me to be prepared for any trouble that may come my way.
I will do this by hiding your Word in my heart.
Thank you for being with me in trouble and delivering me.
I will study your Word and speak it over my life.
When I do, I know that my circumstances will change for the better.
I choose to look at the surety of Your promises rather than temporary trouble.
I place my total confidence in You, in Jesus’ Name.
Transformed Through Trials
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (Jn. 16:33)
God’s ultimate desire is that you experience His prosperity, rest, and quietness but it is often after or during a time of pressure, affliction, anguish, and trouble. So many believers imagine that God has forsaken them during these time when in fact, His grace and provision are with us if we would only recognize the trouble for what it is - an opportunity to see the glory of God.
Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you." (1 Peter 4:12)
Think of it: God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked, and kept the Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blessing furnace, but He didn’t. Trials present an opportunity for each of us to depend on God like never before.
We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.." (2 Cor. 1:9)
We going through trouble remember, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Rom. 8:28-29)
You can be certain that God’s promises will see you through and that your Heavenly Father is still in control.
God’s power is on standby for any situation that you are facing. He will see you through.
God wants to be involved in bringing deliverance and provision to every area of your life.
You may not see His provision yet, but continue to trust because it will all work out.
And know this, that your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever. A silversmith was asked, “How do you know when the silver is pure?” When you have been refined by trials, people will be able to see Jesus’ reflection in you. Since God intends to make you like Jesus, He will see you through the same experiences that Jesus went through, the same trials that Jesus said you would go through like loneliness, temptation, stress, criticism, rejection, and many others. Despite the trouble Paul also said,
We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” (Rom 8:17 MSG)
Rejoice and give thanks.
1 These. 5:18 says, “ In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” In the middle of trouble, remember to rejoice and thank God for His miraculous provision.
Refuse to give up.
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:3-4 NLT) Jesus gave us insight that troubles would come, God promised to see you through, so now, it is time for you to lean back and trust His Word and power to see your through this brief time of transformation.
Lord, I know that you love me even when I find myself in difficult times.
I choose to depend on You like never before.
I know and have the surety that everything is going to work out.
In the meantime, I will rejoice and give thanks as I walk through the valley.
I will not give up because I know that you are with me.
Your provision and power are more than enough for me today.
In Jesus’ Name.
Transformed by the Word
As Jesus said in Matt. 4:4, “No one can live only on food. People need every word that God has spoken.” Spiritual growth is the process of replacing the lies of the enemy with truth. Jesus prayed for us to the Father, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” (Jn 17:17) To be transformed into the image of Jesus, we must fill our lives with His Word. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life,” Jesus said.
Transformation begins with the decision that you will make feeding on God’s Word a first priority in your life. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” (Jn 8:31).
Accept the authority of the Word
Allow God’s Word to become the authoritative standard for your life, meaning that it is the compass you rely on for direction, the counsel you listen to for making wise decisions, and the benchmark you use for evaluating everything. It must be the first and last word in your life. Decide that regardless of culture, tradition, reason, or emotion, you choose the Word as your final authority.
Take In God’s Word
Worry is focused thinking on something negative. Meditation is doing the same thing, only focusing on God’s Word instead of your problem.
Finally, apply the principles of God’s Word by being a “doer” of His Word. Jesus said,
“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt 7:24 NIV).
Today ask yourself, What has God already told me to do that I haven’t started doing yet? Then write down some action steps that will help you act on what you know. As D.L. Moody said, “God has not given us His word for information but rather for transformation.” Be changed today by His truth.
Lord, I want to fill my life with Your Word.
I will make it the standard for my life.
Regardless of how I feel, Your Word will be my final authority.
I will receive, read, research, remember, and reflect on Your Word every day.
I commit to practice and be a doer of the Word.
Because of it, I will be blessed in every thing I do.
Change me through Your Word which is truth.
In Jesus’ Name.
Growing is a Must
….We will no longer be immature like children…. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Eph 4:14-15 NLT)
We were never meant to remain as children is what another translation reads. Sadly, millions of Christians grow older but never grow up. Growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing. Jesus said to Matthew, “Come, be my disciple…. So Matthew got up and followed him.” (Matt 9:9). Many are afraid to commit to anything and just drift through life. Others make half-hearted commitments which leads to frustration and mediocrity. Others make full commitments, yet to worldly goals, which leads only to disappointment and bitterness.
Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live….” (2 Peter 3:11).
Purposeful growth is a decision each of us should make.
God's Part vs Your Part
Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Phil 2:12-13 NLT).
The two parts of spiritual growth are to “work out” and to “work in.” The “work out” is your responsibility, and the “work in” is God’s role. Spiritual growth is a team effort between you and the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit works with us, not just in us.
During a physical workout, you exercise to develop your body. You don’t work out to get a body.
Farmers “work” the land, not to get the land. They develop what they already have. In the same way, we don’t work to gain our salvation status in God, yet we must “work out” and give effort to becoming more like Christ.
Pilots must change the autopilot setting to ultimately change the direction of their flight, not simply struggle with the steering. In the same way, to change your life, you must change the way you think. Behind everything you do is a thought. Every behavior is motivated by a belief, and every action is prompted by an attitude.
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” (Prov. 4:23 TEV)
Changing Your Autopilot
…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Rom. 12:2)
Begin by changing the way you think because the way you think determines the way you feel and the way you feel influences the way you act. Becoming like Christ means developing the mind of Christ and taking on His outlook and perspective. This can only come from the power of God’s transforming Word.
Secondly, start thinking maturely by focusing on others and not yourself.
We should think of their good and try to help them by doing what pleases them. Even Christ did not try to please himself.” (Rom 15:2-3 CEV)
More Like Him
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son….We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.” (Rom 8:29 MSG)
From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like his Son, Jesus. This is your destiny and one of the greatest purposes of your life.
Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.”(Gen. 1:26)
When sin entered the earth, the image in us was damaged and distorted. God sent Jesus on a mission to restore the full image that we had lost.
God’s desire is for His children to bear His image and likeness.
You were also taught to become a new person created to be like God, with a life that truly has God’s approval and is holy.” (Eph. 4:24)
That means, God wants you to become godly - taking on His values, attitudes, and character. Becoming more like Him is all about transforming your character, not your personality.
The Spirit is at work.
It is the Holy Spirit’s job to produce Christlike character in you. As the scriptures say, “And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Cor. 3:18 NLT). Willpower and good intentions are not enough. It is the Holy Spirit who makes changes that God wants in our lives. “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Phil 2:13 NLT) Becoming more like Him is produced by inhabitation not imitation. We allow Christ to live through us.
Cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work.
While effort has nothing to do with your salvation, it has everything to do with your spiritual growth. Don’t just wait around for it to happen. As Paul challenged us, “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (Eph 4:22-24)
If you will apply God’s Word, connect regularly with other believers, and learn to trust God in difficult circumstances, you will become more like Jesus. John said, “…He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.” (1 John 3:2). God is far more interested in what you are than in what you do, so allow Him to make you like Himself. This is our greatest privilege, our immediate responsibility, and our ultimate destiny.
Lord, I see that Your desire is that I become more like Jesus.
I choose to become more godly in my values, attitudes, and character.
Holy Spirit, do your work in me.
Make the changes that God desires in me.
I will allow you to abide strongly in my heart where change takes place.
I will let go of old ways.
I will allow you to renew my mind and thinking.
I will purposely put on the new habits.
Like a butterfly that changes from ugly to beautiful, make me more like Jesus.
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