Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Response to a Hardened Heart

This blog is my place to be brutally honest. Here it is: One of my greatest struggles this last year has been with (generally) men in positions of leadership who have a hard heart, or stopped up ears, to women and their suffering. 

In the past, I have been put off by women whose desire to help (specifically in the area of abuse) comes across as brash, disrespectful, and demanding. I avoid their writing, teaching, and communication because their person and message feel so charged with anger and bitterness.

However, I have to admit that I have struggled with those same feelings and frustrations.

Recently, I have been blessed by the book of Exodus--specifically Pharaoh's hardened heart. Sometimes Pharaoh chose to harden his heart* (חָזַק "to be or grow firm or strong, strengthen"). He determined not to free Israel from his bond.

The majority of the time, the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart or it was done to him--his heart was hardened.**

Over and over and over Moses repeated the message, to free God's people from bondage and servitude for the purpose of worship. Over and over, Pharaoh said, "No"--after gaslighting, posturing, blame-shifting, intimidating, using tactics we can see and refer to in contemporary terms.

But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. (7:3)

“Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, so that I may perform these signs of Mine among them..." (10:1)

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” (14:4)

And as for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. (14:17)

God does His work, not in spite of hardened hearts, but through them, in them, because of them. The work is not ours. It is His.

Moses experienced rejection after rejection. He was demeaned, belittled, and rebuffed. But, because God had given a command and God enabled him to persevere, Moses went back over and over again regardless of Pharaoh's response. He didn't need Pharaoh's approval. He served God alone. He didn't need Pharaoh's permission. But God did an amazing work and revealed Himself in ways never seen.

The example of God freeing Israel from Egypt was a sign of His might, power, goodness, and provision to this day. Generation after generation recalled the escape from Egypt. It is a picture of Jesus purchasing our freedom from sin and death.

In and through it all, what was Israel's job? First, they cried out and God heard them. Then He sent Moses. And it was theirs to listen. Trust God. And obey. Regardless of desperate circumstances--as slaves, through the plagues, as the firstborn were slain, with their backs against the Red Sea. Cry out. Listen. Trust. Obey.

When God allows people to say, "No" to a good thing, to living out the image of God in worship and freedom, we can be downhearted and disheartened. But I have been encouraged that God uses even this for His glory. In fact, He is behind it all for a greater purpose. God is God. He is working. I can trust Him. I am simply called to obey in the tasks He puts before me. I am not to give in to despair, hatred, or reviling. My words and behavior need only reflect our Lord Jesus Christ whether they are appreciated or not; listened to or not; respected or not. Pharaoh did not listen. And that was God's doing. For His purpose. For His glory. And the deliverance of His people.

As Pharaoh approached, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were coming after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord.  Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?  Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone so that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness!”

But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will perform for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again, ever. The Lord will fight for you, while you keep silent.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. As for you, lift up your staff and reach out with your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land. And as for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots, and through his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:10-18)

*Exodus 8:15, 8:32, 9:34--and in this verse it is referred to as sin

**Exodus 4:21, 7:3, 7:13, 7:22, 8:19, 9:7, 9:12, 9:35, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, 14:8, 14:17

Tuesday, September 28, 2021


 "...through Him [Jesus] we...have our access in one Spirit to the Father." (Ephesians 2:18)

From where I sit in my home office in podunk America, I have a hard time imagining myself walking into a high rise office of a powerful CEO. Thoughts of metal detectors, armed men and women in suits, click-clacking shoes on marble floors, elevator banks with escorts, and lots of glass come to mind.

Walking into a corner office for an appointment seems ludicrous. Being invited or welcomed--feeling comfortable in such--beyond comprehension. I don't wear heels or a suit on a special day, let alone a normal one.

But the Bible says that through Jesus, we have access to God the Father. And we don't go alone. We have the Holy Spirit to accompany us. We are in our element--and we are welcomed!

God, the Creator of the Universe, calls us children. He has chosen to be our Father. Our good, perfect, generous, giving, kind, giving of Himself, Father. And He wants us to to come. He wants us to realize our access to His face, His throne, His hand, His kingdom, His eternity. 

What does that mean? It  means I don't have to live life on my own. I don't have to accomplish or prove myself  by myself. I have access to God! I have access to His armory, His banquet table, His hallways, His lap. He wants to be part of my decisions. He wants to meet my needs. He wants to show Himself faithful through my circumstances and responses. He made Himself accessible for a reason. He has given me supernatural, open access that I might live with the resources and gifts only He can give--through Jesus.

So, then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” which is done in the flesh by human hands. At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In his flesh, he made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that he might create in himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death. He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So, then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-22 CSB)

Friday, September 10, 2021

True Satisfaction

We are dissatisfied creatures. Of all the things I struggle with regularly, this is probably the most constant, persistent--the gnawing of my soul. The unrest. The striving, chasing, wasting. The sunkenness and flatness of spiritual eyes. The lack of appetite and discernment for what is good, pleasing, and right in exchange for the fatty, sexy morsels that deceive and leave me more hungry than before. Or continuing to shove dry crusts of bread down my throat without living water; choking on every bite, self-righteous but envious of those who refuse to choke beside me.

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven...." (John 6:32)

This morning as I read my Bible and answered several simple questions, I was reminded of how easy it is to see myself, not God, at the center. How quickly I fall into discontent.

God is a Father who wants to fill and satisfy His children. He is a Father who provides true bread--generously and freely. He is a good Father who feeds His children only the best. But we, like children, turn our nose up in distaste. We would rather go hungry than feed on His Word. We want to choose a diet of our liking instead of His. We are, and always will be, rebellious, defiant children throwing fits or folding our arms in silence in an effort to outwait our good Father. 

By His grace, He outlasts us. Loves us. Provides and cares for us, even in our wicked, destructive stance of refusing His provision. 

The painful truth is that I want to be acceptable on my terms, not His. I want to be holy, perfect, and complete without suffering. Without Jesus. I seek satisfaction and fulfillment in my children, job, home, church, ministry, spouse, an unknown future object or event of my preference. 

God says, "Come to Me. Eat the good bread I offer. Take Jesus. Trust Him instead of yourself. Believe His work is sufficient and yours never will be. Partake of Jesus. He will fill your soul. He will brighten your eyes. The bread of God--Jesus--comes to free you of guilt, effort, striving, and destruction."

Jesus continued, "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

Friday, May 21, 2021

Fixing What's Wrong

 I'll just put this out there--sometimes the sovereignty of God stinks. Sometimes what happens--what is out of my control, what others plan, purpose or manipulate--is wrong. It ruins everything I've tried to accomplish, months or years of effort, praying and dreaming. I see the wrong behind it and want to change it. "Surely this isn't God's plan!"

Living by faith, however, sits back, reflects, and moves with it. How do I know?

Here is Scripture to help--because I doubt I'm the only one who struggles when this happens.

I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it. And God has so worked, that people will fear Him. That which is, is what has already been, and that which will be has already been; and God seeks what has passed by. (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15)

What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted. (Ecclesiastes 1:15)

Really? Ok. Yes, what God does or doesn't do, but what about what people do? What about their wickedness or wrong choices? I'm just supposed to roll with it?

Look at what happened to Isaac at the end of his life. He was miraculously born to senior citizens. The promised son. The wonder baby. He grew up in a godly family--both of his parents are listed in the hall of faith. Not just one, both. God supernaturally provided a beautiful wife from the home country even though he lived off in the desert. They raised 2 sons and, were, by all accounts, well off.

Then, in the end, one brother betrayed the other. The younger disguised himself, took advantage of his father's frailty and blindness, and received the blessing. How did Isaac respond? Here's the story again:

So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said,

“See, the smell of my son Is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed; Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, And of the fatness of the earth, And an abundance of grain and new wine; May peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, And may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you.”

Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of his father Isaac, that his brother Esau came in from his hunting. Then he also made a delicious meal, and brought it to his father; and he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” And he said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who then was he who hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate from all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, me as well, my father!” And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.” Then Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has betrayed me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and I have given to him all his relatives as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, me as well, my father.” So Esau raised his voice and wept.

Then his father Isaac answered and said to him, “Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, And away from the dew of heaven from above. And by your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother; But it shall come about when you become restless, That you will break his yoke from your neck.” (Genesis 27:27-40)

What a heart-wrenching end to Isaac's life! What a stink! Crook! Deceiver! It doesn't make sense to us. It doesn't seem right. But how does God interpret the situation? This is what the writer of Hebrews pens in relation to Isaac and his faith:

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. (Hebrews 11:20)

It doesn't say what happened was fair, right or just. The Bible doesn't say that Isaac liked it or agreed. It doesn't share the agony of his soul in blessing the wrong son and giving left-overs to his favorite (and isn't there a lot that can be said to parents--that will remain unsaid for now).

Why and how was this an act of faith? 

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen and welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country which they left, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Because it isn't about here and now. Life isn't going to be fair. I'm not going to understand it. I cannot change what God has done, but I can respond in faith, moving forward from here. I can live for that eternal kingdom instead of this earthly one. I can set my heart and mind on what is coming. I don't have to fix what's wrong. I don't have to cover, change or make it right. I simply roll with it and keep my eyes on what is greater, better, higher--Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-3)

And, as the writer of Hebrews will conclude:

Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-4)

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Life Goes On

So life goes on. Our best life today includes spring planting, caring for baby chickens, helping children plan the end of the college year and summer. With or without us, life goes on.

In my chronological read through the Bible (which started in January of 2017), I'm finishing the book of Acts. Honestly, I have so many thoughts and questions--and have stopped to take a closer look at this and that that it's taken a bit longer than anticipated.

As I read back and forth between the book of Acts and the Pauline Epistles, I began wondering who this "we" is that popped up regularly. Of course Luke is referring to himself as he travels with Paul, but there are others as well--people I'd never taken the time to notice. So I backed up the bus and, beginning in Acts 13, created my own catalogue of Paul and company on their missionary travels. I'm wrapping up chapter 28 and have been encouraged by a number of truths:

- Ministry, even individual ministry, includes an ebb and flow of others. It is not wrong or bad for people to come and go, but it is natural. I am only responsible for where I am and who I am with now, today.

- Ministry is a group project. Whether people are praying, giving financially, spreading the Word, coming for healing and grace, or working alongside one another making tents or teaching, we're in it together. God is using each and every individual, sanctifying them in and through their part.

- I can trust God with the unknowns of life. Sometimes Paul was in a place for a short period of time, at other times he was there for months or years. Paul made decisions based on circumstances, what he thought was best, God's intervention, communication from others, the needs of others. He was flexible and willing to do whatever, whenever. One thing that did not motivate Paul's plans was fear. Safety. Yes. Fear? No.

- When God wants you to go somewhere or do something (like Rome), nothing can interfere--not a 2 week storm on the sea, or other's intentions to kill you, or shipwreck, or a poisonous snake bite. Even if it's a hard, life-threatening situation, God's provision in and through the difficulties is encouragement to persevere. So I can look for His guidance in the hard times--and not be discouraged. 

Those are just a few takeaways before I head up to sort and clean my mother-in-law's empty apartment. I'm so thankful for the richness and truth in God's Word. Perhaps you, too, will be encouraged as you run the race God has put before you.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Live Your Best Life

We have a saying at our house--"Live your best life." Maybe you say it, too.

My mother-in-law, who has lived with us a number of years, was recently admitted to hospice. Struggles in the last couple of weeks have resulted in confusion and a disconnect between her body and mind. As she turns for help, we've started to say, "Mom, next you're going to do (whatever) and live your best life." There is comfort and hope in knowing that today I can experience God's best.

What does it mean to "live my best life?" It means 

- I will take life as it comes. There are a lot of people and situations I can't control. That's okay. I can trust God to bring what He will and see me through. He sees and knows each one and He is with me.

- I will ask for God's help in each and every moment. Whether it's a breakfast choice, completing the laundry, or loving others, I will ask God for help realizing I can't do it on my own--and I don't want to.

- By God's grace, I will make wise, God-dependent choices in those things that are my responsibility. Each day has a multitude of decisions. Am I putting God first--acknowledging Him in all my ways? Am I loving others in thought, speech and conduct?

- I trust that God will provide and reward. He is the Giver of every good gift (James 1:17). Others may seek to harm me, but God has a bigger, better plan (Genesis 50:20, Jeremiah 29:11). I choose to believe God has "my best life" in mind, too.

- I will be grateful. Knowing I need God's help, asking for His help, and trusting His goodness will help me see Him throughout the day. 

- Finally, living my best life today means recognizing that I will blow it. I will sin against God and others. Confessing my sin and asking forgiveness is the reality of life on earth. 

May each of us, in the little and big moments of today, live our best life--to the glory of God.

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
 Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

 You turn mortals back into dust
And say, “Return, you sons of mankind.”
 For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or like a watch in the night.

You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep;

In the morning they are like grass that sprouts anew.
 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew;
Toward evening it wilts and withers away.

For we have been consumed by Your anger,

And we have been terrified by Your wrath.
 You have placed our guilty deeds before You,
Our hidden sins in the light of Your presence.
 For all our days have dwindled away in Your fury;
We have finished our years like a sigh.
 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is only trouble and tragedy;
For it quickly passes, and we disappear.
 Who understands the power of Your anger
And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?
 So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

 Do return, Lord; how long will it be?
And be sorry for Your servants.
 Satisfy us in the morning with Your graciousness,
That we may sing for joy and rejoice all our days.

Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us,

And the years we have seen evil.
 Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children.
 May the kindness of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands. (Psalm 90 NASB)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Worship Language

I continue to be blessed by the memory of praying with a brother and sister at church, each in a different mother tongue. We prayed together primarily for the purpose of beseeching God, but also for edification and fellowship. It wasn't their words that stick with me (I admit to being a limited American), but the heart, the expression, and the greatness of our God who sees, hears, understands, and knows apart from our very real limitations.

It would seem that those who minister to others and seek God--seeing the best and worst--would have a practiced worship language. A way to reach out to God, focusing mind, heart, and body as a product of God's personalized, individual design.

The Word. Yes, the Word is central, tantamount to worship. Jesus is the Word made flesh. God communicates through His Word. The Word of Christ is necessary for growth. We are dependent on God's Word to save us, change and transform us. The Word is to be in us, abiding, implanted.

So how does the Word come out of you ? How do you say thank you, praise Him, or cry? Do you pray, write, sing, play an instrument, dance, draw, run? What is your worship language? How do you express your heart to God when it is full of praise, full of pain, full of need?

I am concerned that many of us are distracted, failing to develop skills and discipline to worship God well. To offer our best. To give of that which is costly for the glory and praise of God; which can only be achieved through sacrifice, effort, and diligence. It is not only natural ability, but natural ability combined with the Spirit's empowering for the edification of all. 

How will you invest in glorifying God today with all that you are? May He be praised and honored by our gifts of praise.


I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:1-8)

Monday, January 4, 2021

Got Trouble?

Trouble is not new. Our English word, "trouble" covers everything from a rogue raccoon to a destructive relationship. Trouble. Hardship. Trial. Tribulation.


There are different ways to think about trouble. It's usually unexpected. Unpleasant. Difficult, even.

Some trouble comes against us personally. Some is situational, or circumstantial. It could be serious, life-threatening, or annoying. It may come as a result of our own sinful choices or have nothing to do with us at all.

The word James uses is "peirasmos" (pronounced, "pi-ras-mos") which means a trial or temptation.

In James 1:2, this is something that just happens. You fall into it. You didn't see it coming. You didn't do anything wrong, necessarily. Like Mr. Magoo, you simply walked into the manhole of a peirasmos. 

God wants us to know what to do with these moments. Look what the rest of the chapter says:

  • Use it. Squeeze the living daylights out of it. Milk it for all it's worth because God sent this as a gift. It has a purpose and that purpose is to make me perfect, complete, not lacking any good thing. I can say, "Thank you, God, for sending this my way at this time. I may not know how you're going to use it, but I trust that you are good and you will use this for your glory." (James 1:2-4)

  • Admit that I have no idea what to do next. "God, you sent this trial, this difficulty, and I know You know all. Please help me respond in a way that pleases You. Help me know how and what to do, how and what to say. I can't figure this out on my own, but You have promised not to criticize or judge me when I admit I don't know what to do. Help!" (James 1:5)

  • Ask expectantly. If I don't really believe God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do, I'm no different than the lazy servant who buried the talents. I can't just sit and do nothing. I must keep moving, keep trusting, keep obeying. Trust is demonstrated by obedience. (James 1:6-7)

  • Do not depend on my resources. This is not about how much money I have or how many people I know. This is about learning to trust God with everything, in every circumstances (James 1:9-11).

  • The goal is endurance. Not perfection. Just hanging in there. Day after day. God will give the grace I need for each moment--not tomorrow, not yesterday, but today, right now. (James 1:12)

  • Watch my choices. It's easy to turn to  gifts apart from God to bring comfort and relief. God says, "When you're hard-pressed and suffering, examine your heart. Your desires, contrary to Mine, will lead to death."
    Instead,  I must exercise trust that God will provide exactly what I need when I need it--He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift. He saved me by His Word, He will keep me by His Word. He will not fail regardless of the circumstance. (James 1:13-18)

  • Anger is and indicator something's wrong--but be careful. Not getting my way leads to an angry response. I have to ask if I'm angry because God's rule was broken or because my rule was broken? As I examine my anger in the light of His Word and and accept God's provision instead of my own, I will experience the saving work of His Word (James 1:19-21).

  • The proof is in my response. Hearing the Word, is not the same as keeping the Word. The sermon I heard doesn't count. The radio station or podcast I listen to doesn't count. My pastor, small group leader, and accountability partner don't count. The only thing that matters is if I, myself, arm obedient to the Word of God. Obedience ultimately leads to blessing. (James 1:22-25)

  • Finally, I can say all the right words and look like a "good Christian," but if I don't keep my mouth shut and help those no one else knows about or sees, people with legitimate needs, my religion is worthless. I've got nothing. Go back to verse 2 and start over. (James 1:26-27)

Got Trouble? God's has answers. Help. Grace. Anything that makes me dependent on Him is a good thing.