Monday, February 29, 2016

Strong Enough

If you’re like me, you tend to internalize, compartmentalize, and bury pain, disappointments and problems. We pretend that nothing bothers us, and we are strong enough to endure anything on our own without any help from anyone ever. Eventually the built up pain and suffering gushes out unexpectedly. Sometimes we lash out at other people in anger and frustration; sometimes the pain leaks out through our tear ducts at the most random of times. Other times, we might even just completely shut down and become unable to function. Whatever the reaction, the diagnosis is clear: we are not strong enough.

Ever heard the phrase "God won’t put more on you than you can bear"? That’s a lie from the pit of hell. (The Bible states that God won’t allow you to be TEMPTED beyond what you are able to handle, and then He makes a way of escape.) How will we ever learn to trust Him if we could handle everything without Him? What would be the need of an all-sufficient God if we were all-sufficient humans? We are not omnipotent beings, and we need to recognize our need for a Savior who loves us, cares for us, and offers us rest. We don’t have to do it all. We are physically and emotionally incapable of doing it all. Jesus tells us to come to Him with our weariness. He is our hope and our strength.

Don’t worry if you fall apart because you’re buried under. Bring all your broken pieces to the Master. Maybe bring them sooner rather than later to avoid a complete meltdown. Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you. He will lighten your load when you aren’t strong enough to carry it. He will not only carry your burdens, but He will also carry you through whatever you happen to be facing. He is more than strong enough.

1 Peter 5:7 (NASB) casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

Matthew 11:28 (NASB) "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Beauty for Ashes

In Greek mythology, the phoenix is a bird that combusts and dies, only to be reborn from its ashes. The bird is decrepit and aged, ugly and pathetic at the end of its life cycle, but when it rises from the ashes it is vigorous, beautiful, and whole. Beauty can arise from destruction. Sometimes we get so caught up in assessing the damage, that we lose sight of the splendor of rebirth and regeneration.

It is God’s natural order that new life springs up after the barrenness of death and decay. Spring follows winter; trees sprout new, green leaves, flowers bud and bloom, and grass once again begins to grow. God will turn your mourning into dancing and give you beauty for the ashes. Your season of decay, destruction, and desolation will give way to new life, magnificent glory, and wholeness. God won’t leave you tattered and broken in the ashes.
Keep your eyes on the One who created you from nothing. He is able to recreate you from the same nothing. Even if your friends or family have left you to rot in a desolate wasteland, God will never give up on you. He makes everything beautiful in its own time (Ecc. 3:11), and He will make you beautiful at the time He has appointed for you. Don’t give up; God’s promises are sure. You will arise from the ashes whole, beautiful, and stronger than you’ve ever been.
Isaiah 61:2-4 (NLT) He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

This Is War!

Spiritual battles require spiritual weapons. If you are wondering why you feel so defeated when facing the problems in your life, you should check your weapons cache. Recognize that Satan is real, demons are real, and spiritual warfare is real. You can’t fight spiritual wickedness in high places with earthly weapons and methods. Sometimes we have to fight, and sometimes we have to stand still while the Lord fights our battles. Do you know when to do which?
The Bible is more than just history, parables, and examples. The Word of God contains battle strategy for every situation that we could ever face. We have to understand how our enemy operates in order to recognize and resist. As long as we believe that Satan has horns and a pitchfork, we may not realize that our obstinate co-worker or willful child is being used by the cunning, slick, deceptive, and ultra-intelligent fallen one. We’re bringing slingshots to a war with nuclear missiles.
It is time for us to equip ourselves for the battlefield in the world, our homes, our jobs, and our minds. We have been playing church for far too long. There is a war going on! We have become desensitized to the wiles of the devil, and he is gaining ground all around us. We are calling sin by every name in the book but sin, and our souls are suffering. Take some time to brush up on your battle plans; study God’s Word. I challenge you to go back to memorizing Scripture like we did as children. Hide the Word in your heart, so the Holy Spirit can bring it back to your remembrance when you need it.
Prepare yourself for battle!

Ephesians 6:12 (NASB) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

2 Corinthians 10:4 (NASB) for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.