In Spite of the Circumstances God is With You

‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ Hebrews 13:5 NKJV

Several times in one chapter, Genesis 39, the Bible tells us that the Lord was with Joseph. But that didn’t exempt him from jealousy and betrayal, or the advances of Potiphar’s wife, or her lies that sent him to prison. The Bible says, ‘They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulful his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character’ (Psalm 105:18-19 NLT). Joseph didn’t know it, but he was in training for reigning. God wanted to see if he would choose trust over lust, and obedience over expedience. It’s in looking back that you realise why one of God’s names is ‘Redeemer’. He can redeem everything you’ve been through – the good, the bad, the ugly. The lesson Joseph learned is this: God is with you even when there is no evidence He is. He is walking alongside you. He is working with you. He is going ahead of you to rearrange circumstances in your favour. His words says, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So that we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ (Hebrews 13:5-6 NKJV). But sometimes in the plan of God things get worse before they get better. That’s when you must tighten your grip and lean harder on God: ‘Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise’. (Hebrews 10:35-36)

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Perfect Peace

‘Whose thoughts are fixed on you’ Isaiah 26:3 NLT

The secret to ‘perfect peace’ lies in this Scripture: ‘You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!’ It’s not your circumstances, but how you think about them that robs you of peace. Focusing on your circumstances just causes more anxiety, because circumstances constantly change and often spin out of your control. However, God never changes, and nothing ever spins out of His control. Peace and worry are mutually exclusive. Worry throttles your confidence, chokes your perspective, and suffocates your spirit. It robs you of the peace that comes from knowing the God who can handle anything, and through whom all things are possible. The reason we worry so much is because we engage in exactly the opposite behaviour to that which brings peace. Worry is like a ‘no-confidence’ vote in God. You may not intend it that way, but every time you give in to worry, in essence, you’re saying ‘I don’t believe God can or will handle this for me. I’m not sure I can trust Him in this matter, so I’ll just have to carry this burden and take care of the problem myself.’ God is either the object of your trust or just a part-time helper you call on when you cannot handle things on your own. It is reminiscent of the elephant and the mouse that walked over a bridge. When they got to the other side, the mouse said, ‘Man, we really shook that bridge!’ When you begin to see God as playing the major role and you the minor one, you will begin to find the peace which has eluded you for so long.

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God’s Peace

God’s peace is a wonderful thing. And some of the people around you today are in need of it. It comes when you commit your life to Christ and live by the principles laid out in Scripture. When you ‘commit’ something to the Lord, you transfer every part of it from you to Him (see Psalm 37:5). Peter writes, ‘Casting…the whole of your…concerns, once and for all, on Him, for He cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7 AMPC). What a privilege. Have you been availing yourself of it lately? ‘How do I cast all my cares on Him?’ you ask. Through prayer! As soon as you become aware that you’re starting to worry and lose your sense of peace, take it to God immediately and leave it with Him. Don’t give the devil time to work you over. The longer you wait, the greater his holdover you becomes. ‘But I can’t help thinking about it,’ you say. ‘What can I do?’ These 2 things:

1 Give it to God and then start to focus on other things. It’s a learned response, one you’ll have to practice daily. Paul writes, ‘Whatever is true…honourable and worthy of respect…whatever is lovely and brings peace…think continually on these things’ (Philippians 4:8 AMP). In other words, redirect your thoughts!

2 Find out what God says in His Word about your situation. Then line your thoughts, words and actions up with it. When you do this, ‘You will experience God’s peace’ (Philippians 4:7 NLT).

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How to Win Lifes Battles

‘The battle is not yours, but God’s.’ 2 Chronicles 20:15 NIV

Learn to relax in faith. Notice how God responded to Jehoshaphat’s prayer: ‘The battle is not yours, but God’s.’ Many of us wear ourselves out trying to fight God’s battles in our own strength. In the initial flush of becoming Christians, we’re eager to win the world to Jesus, and want to go out and single-handedly bring about His Kingdom. That’s because we don’t reaslise what’s involved. Then after we’ve worked hard under our own stream, reality sets in. We end up crawling back on our hands and knees, disappointed, because we think we’ve let God down. But He assures us, ‘You didn’t let Me down because you weren’t holding Me up.’ The truth is, we don’t hold God up – He holds us up! We don’t have Him in our hands, He has us in His hands! And He’s telling us to relax in faith and let Him do the work through us. Paul wrote, ‘As you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him’ (Colossians 2:6 NIV) In other words, remember how you first became a believer – by simple faith in the finished work of Christ – and continue to live by simple faith. You didn’t become a Christian by striving for perfection and doing good works. Good works have nothing to do with it! Salvation is a free gift. God doesn’t need us to micromanage things; He has everything under control, and He wants us to relax and let Him live through us. Bottom line: victory in life is a gift from God! ‘Thank God, who always lead us in victory because of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 2:14 GWT).

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You Can Start Again

‘He comforts us in all our troubles.’ 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

God can make you comfortable in some of life’s most uncomfortable places. He can bring you through situations you think you won’t survive, or feel like you’ll be stuck in forever. He can give you peace when you’re under pressure. Before your life is over, you’ll experience loss. Indeed, losing some things will actually help you appreciate the things you have. It’s the taste of failure that makes success so sweet. You’ll live not knowing what tomorrow holds, but knowing that God has all your tomorrows planned out. Your future isn’t in the hands of your boss, your banker, your spouse, or anybody else. Nor is it in your own hands to control. All your tomorrows are in God’s hands to control. And just because you don’t understand the path you’re on, doesn’t mean He isn’t leading you. He promises: ‘I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them’ (Isaiah 42:6 NKJV). So get to know God, because you’ll need Him. And He will be there when everybody else has failed you. He will be there for you in the dark places. The psalmist writes, ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning’ (Psalm 30:5 NKJV). However long the night, morning will come – and with it His joy. Looking back, you’ll reaslise that His grace has protected you, provided for you, calmed you, comforted you, and brought you through. Times and seasons change, but not the Lord. He’s ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV).

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This Year Keep Your Joy

‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ Nehemiah 8:10 KJV

When you listen to a great choir sing the Hallelujah Chorus, you realise that Handel was inspired by God. He wrote the entire Messiah in three weeks. He said the music literally ‘came to him’ in a flurry of notes and motifs. He wrote feverishly, and as if driven by an unseen composer to put pen to paper. Yet he wrote it when his eyesight was failing, and he was facing the threat of dying in a ‘debtors’ prison because of a mountain of outstanding bills. Most of us find it difficult to create under stress, especially when physical or financial problems are at the root of that stress. And yet Handel did. How? He credits the completion of his masterpiece to one thing: joy. He is quoted as saying that he felt as if he would ‘burst with joy’ at what he was hearing in his mind and heart. Instead of dying, as he thought he would, he lived to see his oratorio become a cherished tradition and a popular work. And he also saw it succeed in raising vast sums of money for the poor and destitute. The Bible says ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength.’ And one of the first things Satan will attack is your joy. He knows it’s the spiritual and emotional fuel you run on. Jesus said, ‘these things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full’ (John 15:11 KJV). Note the words ‘remain in you’. So: no matter what happens this year, keep your joy!

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Getting Through Your Night-Time Experiences

‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.’ Psalm 30:5 NKJV

God is with us during our ‘night-time experiences’. Think about it; you’ve been knocked down, but by God’s grace you’ve gotten back up. No matter how dark the night, you’ve lived to see the morning. Times change and relationships change, but God is always the same, He’s the one who brought you through every difficulty in the past, and He promises to be with you every day of the future. Note the words ‘joy comes’. That means you will rise again and rejoice again. Your drive to survive comes from a well that’s already within you, and the Lord is the One who fills that well. Let it flow! You don’t have to make it flow, just let it flow. Sixteenth-century English clergyman and historian Dr Thomas Fuller said, ‘if it were not for hope, the heart would break.’- and it always comes. No matter what you’re going through right now, don’t give up until you see the morning. It’s at the end of every dark night and every broken promise – and it always comes. After every setback, betrayal, and denial – morning will surely break. Let nothing keep you from believing that! God will dry your tears and you’ll awake with a new song. One of the greatest promises in Scripture is this: ‘His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion…therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him’ (Lamentations 3:22-25 KJV). Yesterday ended last night. It’s a new day, so make up your mind to enjoy it!

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Be Patient

‘When the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow so let it’ James 1:2-4 TLB

You’re closer than you know to becoming the person God wants you to be. By His enabling grace, you’ll make it through this trial and come out stronger and wiser. Paul says, ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31 NKJV). God is for you! That means you can do the thing you are afraid you can’t do. The prison bars you’re beating against are in your mind. And since you put them up, with God’s help you can take them down. God wants to set you free from the fearful attitudes that have held you back for so long; to release you to live up to your full potential. The right attitude can overcome almost any barrier. For example. The Bible says, ‘Love never fails’ (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV) Why? Because love isn’t dependent on your emotions or circumstances, it’s a servant of your will. Love is a decision! Jesus said, ‘This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you’. (John 15:12 KJV). And if Jesus commands it, He will enable you to do it! Beginning is usually the hard part. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; after that it gets easier. But look out; old attitudes will try to resurface and come back stronger than ever. Don’t let them. Radio commentator Paul Harvey says, ‘You can always tell when you’re on the road to success; it’s uphill all the way’. So be patient; it will take time to get there. But anything worthwhile is worth working for.

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That’s the Good News

‘Where sin increased, grace increased…more’ Romans 5:20 NIV

Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, once visited a lawyer who was a hardened alcoholic. Confined to bed because of violent behaviour, the man had no choice but to listen to their stories of recovery. But as soon as they started talking about a ‘Higher Power’, the lawyer shook his head and said, ‘It’s too late for me. I still believe in God but I know He no longer believes in me’. How sad – and misguided! Are you worried that God won’t accept you because of your sins? You don’t have to be! Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace increased…more.’ And he should know, because before his Damascus Road conversion he was ‘Public Sinner Number One’ (1 Timothy 1:15 MSG). Afterwards God used him to reach the world with the gospel (see Acts 17:2). ‘Grace’ was so central to Paul’s message that he mentions it in the very beginning of all his epistles. That’s because he understood that by trying to stand you your own merit before a Holy God, every time you mess up you feel like a failure – unloved, unworthy, and unaccepted. Psychologists say we try to conform to the image of us that’s seen by the most important person in our lives. So can you imagine what would happen if you started seeing yourself as God sees you? The truth is, you’re His redeemed child and He sees you through the blood of Jesus, which cleanses all your sins (see 1 John 1:9). There’s nothing you can do to make God love you more, and nothing you can do to make Him love you less! And that’s good news.

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What’s in a Name?

‘For the battle is not yours, but God’s ‘ 2 Chronicles 20:15 KJV

When Israel was threatened by the mighty forces of Amalek at Rephidim, God gave them a supernatural victory. Realising that God was fighting the battle for them, Moses built an alter to Jehovah-Nissi: The Lord my banner. Hear His words: ‘The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace’ (Exodus 14:14 NKJV). ‘Be not afraid nor dismayed…for the battle is not yours, but God’s’. Why then do you discourage yourself into defeat, trying to win the battle in your own strength? You engage in a fruitless cycle of repentance, resolutions, struggles, defeat and discouragement, which leads to more repenting. The only sort of spiritual conflict that’s ever successfully won, is the one God fights for you. He doesn’t expect you to win the battle, only to surrender to Him and let Him win it for you! ‘So am I not supposed to fight at all?’ you ask. Yes, you’re to ‘fight the good fight of faith’ (1 Timothy 6:12 KJV). Yours isn’t a battle of exhausting effort; it’s the battle of believing. ‘But am I not to wrestle like Jacob did?’ Observe two things: first, Jacob didn’t win by wrestling, he won by being rendered too weak to continue wrestling. Paul said, ‘When I am weak, then am I strong’ (2 Corinithians 12:10 KJV). Second, Jacob’s victory lay in his surrender. Are you worn out from the battle – at the end of your rope? You may be just where God wants you! Let go and trust your Jehovah-Nissi to prevail for you, because ‘the battle is not yours, but God’s’.

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