As I was reading about Lot and his journey from sinful Sodom, I couldn’t help but note the interesting plea Lot made to his escorts who led him away from the area. God was destroying Sodom. Because of Abraham, Lot was saved. As he and his family were exiting, Lot’s wife looked back and lost her life. The group traveling onward included Lot and his two daughters.
As they continue onward, rather than go where he was being led, Lot begs to go to Zoar. He sees this small village. It’s nearby. It seems like an easier place to stop and find shelter. Instead of going onward, separating himself further from Sodom, he asks to remain in this “small village nearby.” But then what happens? Not so much further along in the text, we read that he “left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there.” He begged to be somewhere and yet had to leave in fear.
Imagine where he may have been led. Imagine if he would have not begged to stay in this small nearby village. We often think our plans are best. When we get an idea in our head, that’s what we want. God has something better. Perhaps we want the small village but He wants to bless us with a larger one. Perhaps we want a small thing, but He has something much bigger in mind. Today, look at the nearby villages you continue to beg for God to provide. Consider He might have something else for you. Consider the moments you drag your feet to stay near where you already are, and the possibility that God wants to move you further then you ever imagined.
“’See, there is a small village nearby. Please let me go there instead; don’t you see how small it is? Then my life will be saved’… Afterward Lot left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there, and he went to live in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters. – Genesis 19:20, 30 [NLT]
My dog Max frightens at times. I often tell him he is a big baby despite his 85-pound Labrador body. When my little Shih-Tzu Marci has an episode due to tracheal collapse, Max runs upstairs to hide. He doesn’t like the sound. I’ll admit the sound is a bit disturbing.
The tracheal collapse is a known issue with the breed. It doesn’t happen often and it has not caused Marci any problems. Even so, Max is fearful of the noise and possibly the body language of his best friend. Perhaps, just like us humans, he’s fearful of the unknown.
The unknown can be scary. Truth be told, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It is unknown. There are some possible things that likely will happen tomorrow. But we don’t know for sure. Even more frightening is when we are to walk out of our comfort zone. When God calls us out of the comfort area, the fear level rises. There’s no need to run. Tomorrow may be unknown, but our God is known and He is faithful. Put your trust in Him. He will see you through.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” – Psalm 56:3-4 [ESV]
A week before my eighteenth birthday I was stung by underground bees and had to be rushed to the hospital from anaphylactic shock. I remember the quick drive to the emergency room. I remember praying to make it okay because I was afraid to die. I was on a stretcher begging for my life.
A little over a week ago I was stung again by underground bees. I was once again frantic, but not because I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it. I was flailing around for I did not want to have a negative reaction because I was planning to soon head over to church to set up for Vacation Bible School. I was no longer eighteen and focused on me; I’m 35 and usually focused on God and working for His Kingdom.
Here I am. I’m still here. Unlike the last time, there were no hives, no struggling to breathe. I wanted to share this story simply to encourage you today. You are a work in progress. Little by little God helps you to be the person He made you to be in life. You might be fearful about something. You might focus a lot of the time on yourself. You’re not where He wants you to be or where you want you to be yet. But He’s not finished and you do not have to live like you’re finished either. You were made for so much more. Remember each day—focus on Him. Make your aim to love Him and to know Him and to share Him with all you meet. There’s so much more for each of us. Keep on keeping on. And watch out for those bees!
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” – Philippians 1:6 [NLT]
Elijah came on the scene with no introduction and announced the Word of God. He told the people there would be no rain, upholding what was said in Deuteronomy 28:24 for those in disobedience. Ravens brought him food and when the brook dried up, he went to the widow of Zarephath and God provided.
Elijah then had a showdown with the prophets of Baal. As Elijah watched, the prophets could not get Baal to produce fire. Elijah poured 12 jars of water in a trench and God produced fire that drank up all of the water and burned the surrounding stones. It was an amazing display of God’s power, but then Elijah ran in fear and hid himself in a cave.
God approached Elijah and asked him – What are you doing here? There was incredible wind, an earthquake and fire but God was not in any of them. Then came a gentle whisper. Elijah was reminded of God’s greatness. There are moments when we need to be reminded of God’s greatness – when fear and doubt creep in and try to discourage us. Today, ask yourself how great is our God? How great is our God! Step out of the cave.
“When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” – 1 Kings 19:13 [NIV]
Many people will agree that the Bible mentions some type of “do not fear” phrase 365 times and these same people hold that God left us these phrases so we have one for each day of the year. The Bible verse I return to often is Isaiah 41:10 which tells us to “fear not.” That’s where FearNot Ministries was born.
In Mark 6, the disciples were in the middle of storm that produced great wind. The disciples were struggling. Through this storm, there was Jesus walking on the water. It frightened the disciples. Who can say what was going through their minds? But Jesus told them not to be afraid. Then he said, “Take courage! I am here!”
Take courage. Jesus is here. If you’ve accepted Him into your heart—if you believe in Him and He is your Lord and Savior, He promised that you would receive His Spirit. God is always with you. So take courage. No matter what you are going through. Take courage. He is with you.
“They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage! I am here!’” – Mark 6:50 [NLT]
After Samuel poured the oil over Saul’s head to anoint him as the Lord had instructed, something happened to Saul—he went missing. When they asked the Lord where he was, the Lord pointed out that he was “hiding among the baggage.” He was hiding. Other versions say he had “hidden himself among the supplies.” Either way you read it, this man who was head taller than everyone was found hiding.
We each have a calling upon our lives and there are moments when we want to hide. Perhaps you are hiding right now. Some people do not want to obey because it would require sacrifice. Some people do not feel qualified to do what God has called them to do in life. Some people are hiding because they believe they have a better plan. There are so many reasons people hide. Fear. Pride. The list is extensive.
Today is a great day to ask yourself if you are hiding, and if you are hiding, from what are you hiding? If God has called you to do something, He will give you everything you need to get it done. Today, get out of the baggage and rise to greater heights through Christ Jesus.
“So they asked the LORD, ‘Where is he?’ And the LORD replied, ‘He is hiding among the baggage.’ “– 1 Samuel 10:22 [NLT]
This morning it was drizzling but I still faithfully took my dog for a walk. As we continued up the street, I noticed that there was a newspaper that was poking through the plastic covering that the delivery person used for protection. In a quick moment, I passed by thinking that the newspaper would get all wet and perhaps I should pick it up and put it under the safety of the porch roof. But instead, I did nothing. I left it where it was and made excuses as to why I could not do that simple act. As I was a few blocks away, I started to feel regretful for not taking the opportunity that was right before me. It was a simple act of love that did not happen.
I think that too often there are opportunities presented to you and I, and I personally know that there are times in my life when I make excuses to not take action. I have heard many excuses as to why help cannot be given to someone, to the church, to a family in need, to a cause. Though this world is a hectic place and our schedules get busy, I think of how Jesus was walking toward one person when another person came in need of help. The lady reached out and touched His garment, and although He was on His way to pay a visit to the daughter of Jairus, He stopped and spoke to this woman (Mark 5). I remember how even after He was teaching at Capernaum and most likely tired from a busy day, He went back to Peter’s house to settle, only to still continue healing and reaching out to help others (Mark 1).
We will not always reach out. We will find ourselves making excuses. We will say we are too tired, too overwhelmed, too busy, too focused elsewhere, too unworthy, too untrained, too afraid. The list could go on and on with excuses I’ve given or heard. Thank God that He never makes excuses.
Today I encourage you to be the person who puts the newspaper on the porch. I pray that when you notice that you are making excuses for something that you can easily do before you walk away so that later you won’t be feeling guilty that you did not do more. Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“Do not neglect to do what is good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:16 [ESV]
How many people does it take to change a light bulb? Many people have heard this question asked as part of a joke. This morning I entered the kitchen and realized that it was a bit darker than usual. I looked to where the light usually comes from and noticed that there was a bulb in some cylindrical thing and it was out. I had no clue how to change this bulb or even where I could purchase a replacement bulb. Two months ago, I did not even know that under-the-cabinet lights existed.
It took me quite some time to remove the old bulb. Then I went over to my laptop and started to search for the numbers I found on the bulb. I got a lot of information, but I had to sift through things to make sure it was the correct information. Then it was off to the store and I was so confused when I found all of the different types of bulbs in the lighting supply aisle. There were so many bulbs that looked like the exact same bulb. I had to take the old bulb out and make comparisons. I had to read paperwork. I had to take my time to make the right choice. When I got to the cash register, I told the cashier that I was so nervous to install the bulbs. She could tell that I was in need of a confidence boost and she let me know that I would get the job done, and she even gave me some pointers. She was right!
We are often faced with situations that are new, things that are more grueling and more important than a simple light bulb. We are called to do things that are challenging. We are given work that seems nearly impossible. Some situations overwhelm us if we let them.
What do you do when you have your own light bulb to change? Your light bulb could be anything. You do the same thing you do with anything that comes your way in life.
Things to remember:
* Do not hide from the situation. Hiding from the situation will not make it go away. Remember that you are a child of God (Galatians 3:26). God can do more than you ever could imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If God is for you, what can be against you? (Romans 8:31). Many times, you will find that the situation is a great test of faith which can result in spiritual growth that will help you to one day be complete (James 1:2-4).
* Take it one step at a time. There is usually no need to rush a situation. When Jesus was ministering on earth, notice that He wasn’t rushing around healing and feeding. He took steps. He took time. He left us an example of great patience and self-control. If we practice this behaviors, we are more likely to be successful. Remember that “the steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23 NASB).
* Prepare yourself. Do the research. Read. Learn. Grow. Even when I was changing the light bulb, God’s Word was in my head and heart. Spending time in His Word helps to provide us with what we need when we are facing tough situations. Seek Him for guidance. His Word provides instruction and encouragement (Romans 15:4).
* Do not be afraid to ask for help. Don’t let your pride get in the way. God wants us to be part of a community. We each have our own part to play. We each have different talents, different specialties. We are all given the command to love one another. Sometimes we do the giving, sometimes we do the receiving. We should always seek help from Him. But remember, there are times that we need to ask others for some assistance. People do not always know what is going on in your life and they cannot read your mind. Luke 11 gives us instruction on how to pray as it also tells us of a friend who helps another. The friend is knocking on the door and announcing the need. Sometimes we are the helping friend, sometimes we are the knocking friend.
* Surround yourself with positive people. Positive people will be encouraging. Positive people share, love, and can see the good in things. Proverbs 11:9 states, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor.” Words are powerful and if you are surrounded by negative people, in time it will start to become your way of life. Proverbs 17:22 says that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (NASB). When you are facing tough situations, it is wonderful to have some “good medicine” from some positive people.
Finally, show yourself some grace. God thinks you are worth it!
I was reading Zechariah yesterday and when I came upon a verse, I noticed a word that jumped out. In Zechariah 8:13, the verse says to “fear not” or “do not be afraid” Then it continues with “but LET your hands be strong” [ESV, NASB, KJV, ASV]. Let my hands be strong? How can I let my hands be strong? I was reading from the NASB translation so I decided to look at other translations to see if there was a difference. God’s Word says, “let your hands work hard.” The NLT says “get on with rebuilding the Temple.” The Message translation says to “keep a firm grip on what I’m doing.”
At this time, they were rebuilding the Temple but they were facing some problems. God was telling them to stay focused and press forward with His work. He provides all we need to get His work accomplished. I love the Douay-Rheims translation which says “let your hands be strengthened.” We are weak alone, but if we allow God to work with us, we are strong. We are not to work alone; we cannot do it alone. The word “let” is used, because we need to openly accept the help from God. He loves us and does not force Himself upon us.
The Message says that we are to “keep a firm grip” on God’s work through the situation. We are to focus on God and what He can do instead of looking at what we can do alone. The people who were rebuilding the Temple were being told they couldn’t do it. They were facing hardships. They were having the devil whisper in their ears.
God says we are to focus on what He can do through us. We still need to press forward. We still need to be building whatever God called us to build; however, we need to focus on what He is doing with the building process. When things look like they won’t work, when people are telling you that they won’t work, we are not to get deterred from doing what God called us to do in life. We are to keep a strong grip on God’s Truth. Whatever is not God’s Truth is not truth at all. If there is something going on in your life and you are feeling deterred from doing what God has called you to do, “let your hands be strong.” God can do anything! Keep a firm grip on Him and His promises for your life.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
– Philippians 4:13 [NLT]