Trust Through Trials

It was early 2012. I had just experienced the loss of my Grandma, and came out of a short but corrupting relationship. It was then that I began running heavily. I was doing 5k’s, 10k’s, half marathons, and spending lots of miles on the road. I would talk with friends and coworkers about all of the miles I was putting in. If I was talking about anything, it was most likely running. I was a runner, and that was my identity.

It was late 2013, and I met someone special through a social running group. She was much different than anyone I had known before. She was a Christian, yet I was not. It was through that relationship that God brought me to Himself. I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But running was still my identity. And now this relationship was my identity.

It was early 2014. A few months into that relationship, things took an unexpected turn with my running. Out of nowhere, I experienced a show-stopping injury. My hip flexor, piriformis, iliacus, gracilis, psoas, hamstrings, and others were so tight that I could barely lay down comfortably. So I had to completely stop running. Over the past few years, I had overused many of my muscles, and I had no choice but to stop. I was no longer a runner. Running was no longer part of my identity. But I had my relationship.

It was mid 2014. Things took an unexpected turn with my relationship. One evening my girlfriend and I were sitting outside at her home, and it was there that I heard those heart breaking words. It felt like it was out of no where. We had some issues like any other relationship, but nothing that I thought couldn’t be worked out. The relationship was over, and I was confused. And now this relationship was no longer part of my identity.

It was in this moment that the identities that I had tried to build up for myself had all failed. It was in this moment that I was completely broken. All of my idols has been torn down to the ground. Looking back over these years, I don’t think this was by accident.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.

Hebrews 12:6

It was in this brokenness, when all the identities and idols I had were destroyed, that I was able to truly see Jesus for who He is in my life. He is not Lord of just some things, He is Lord of everything.

It is 2015, and my identity is fully and forever in Jesus.

Today I still have some lingering effects of those running injuries, but I’m running now. I still have some questions and hurts from that broken relationship, but I’m moving on with life. Both of these things have brought me to Jesus, and both of them have shown me how much I need Jesus, and both of these things have shown me that I can trust in His promises.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

 

 

When God Doesn’t Feel Near

Each night after dinner, and after I have put away all of the dishes, I head over to my bible to do some reading, study, and prayer. Last night felt different though. As I sat down to read His word, I was struggling to feel a connection with what I was reading. And as I began to pray over what I just read, I was struggling for the words to speak.

I felt distant from God, and I didn’t know why. My mind did not feel like it was in the right place. Something felt off, and I began to be discouraged with how I was feeling. I began to think that maybe I should just grab my tablet, head over to the couch, and watch some TV and surf the web until it was time to go to bed.

But then I recalled something I heard earlier that morning, a good reminder and words of encouragement. My faith in God is not based on my current emotion or feeling, but rather on the knowledge of the hope that I have in Jesus Christ. That knowledge is fact, and does not change even though I may change day to day.

This very moment where I felt distant from God was the very moment that I needed to draw near to God.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

James 4:8a

Even though our circumstances may change, our feelings may change, we have a God that is unchanging. His promises are true, and he is faithful to every single one of them. I know that if I draw near to God, he will also draw near to me. Even if I may not feel it in that moment, I know that He is truly there.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

Psalm 139:7-12

This is one of my favorite Psalms, one that I return to many times for encouragement. Here we see a description of the omnipresence of God. There is not one place I can go where He is not there. Even though I may feel distant from God, I know that He is truly there.

I hope that this is encouragement to your soul, that no matter what you are experiencing, or what you are be feeling, God’s word is true. His character never changes, even though our feelings may change. When you feel distant from God, that is the very moment that you should draw near to God. God is faithful, and He will draw near to you.

Always Be Prepared

This morning as I was in prayer, I began to think about how often I do not share the hope that is within me. So I began to ask for God to work in me through the power of His Spirit, to give me the courage and strength to share the hope I have in Jesus, to give me the words to speak in those moments, and to provide opportunities where I am able to share His word.

Well this morning, one of those moments came and went, and I missed yet another opportunity. I began to talk to someone about the loss of a reporters husband in a cycling crash. The conversation began to go in the direction about how we are not guaranteed tomorrow. And then the conversation came to an end.

As I walked away, I realized how that would have been a great opportunity to share the hope that I have in Jesus, and it would have just taken an extra few seconds, and one simple sentence.

Although we are not guaranteed tomorrow, those that are in Christ Jesus are guaranteed eternal life.

Even though this very morning I prayed for an opportunity like this, I was not prepared. Looking at the word of God, we are called to always be prepared to make a defense for the hope that is in us.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

1 Peter 3:15

And we are to be prepared in season and out of season to share the word of God with others.

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:2

I’m not sure how many times I will need to be convicted by the Holy Spirit to do what He has commanded us. But I know that each one of these moments is preparing me for the next. Today I realized that with just a few extra seconds, just one extra sentence, I could have shared the hope I have in Jesus Christ.

Although it was a missed moment on my part, I know that God does not miss any moments. He has used this moment to instruct me and teach me so that I will be better prepared for the next.

 

Forgiveness Is Now

This morning, I came across an article that broke my heart and fueled a fire in me at the same time. Without going into too much detail, it dealt with how we can receive forgiveness. I don’t want that story to distract you from what I’m about to write, but it was far from the truth.

This is the gospel.

The gospel is the good news that Jesus came to declare, fulfill, and send us out to tell all of the nations. The time in which we can repent and receive forgiveness is now.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Mark 1:15

It is the time between when we are born and the time that we die in which we can receive forgiveness. It is the very moment that you realize that you need forgiveness. There is no need to wait, there is no need to schedule an appointment. There is a Heavenly Father waiting for you right now with open arms.

We do not need to come before a man on this earth to ask for forgiveness. The person that we come to for forgiveness is not a man. Man is fallible, and a sinner. I am a sinner, you are a sinner. We all sin. It is the nature that we were born into.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 3:23

The one who forgives is both God and Man. He is the Son of the true God and Father. His name is Jesus, and He lived a life without sin.

For our sake, He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:21

He bore every single one of your sins so that you can have everlasting life. Past, present, and future. And this was done before you were even in existence. There is not one sin that is too far from the grace of God. Not a single thing.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

In his great love and mercy, He died on the cross to bear our sins. All of our guilt and all of our shame has been nailed on that cross. While He was hanging from that cross, He declared “It is finished”.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

Our God is faithful, and is true to His word and all of His promises. If we confess our sins to Him, he will forgive them all. You can be reconciled to God through Jesus right now.

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

If you confess that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved.

If this seems to simple, to easy, to good to be true, you are not alone. It took me 30 years to realize this truth. I lived a life of sin which was leading me destruction, disappointments, failures, and a lack of self worth. It was through hearing the gospel, the good news, that I came to realize who I am without Jesus. I knew that there was nothing humanly possible to make things right. There is only one hope for us all, and that is our faith in Jesus.

This belief is different than believing in the super bowl, or believing that George Washington was the first president. This believe is entrusting your life to Jesus. That Jesus is who he says he is. That he is both God and man. That his death, burial, and resurrection is true. That His sacrifice was sufficient. That you believe that He is Lord.

It is my prayer that whoever reads this post may realize that they are loved. That you are wanted. That you are in need of a Savior. If this is you, come to Jesus now. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. The time is now. You can be forgiven. You can be made new.

Repent, believe, and confess your sins before the Lord,  and you will be saved!

 

Praise the Lord

  
Tonight, as I finished eating dinner, I decided to come sit outside with my dog and enjoy the peacefulness of the outdoors. With a quick glance to my left, I took notice of the sky painted by God, through His mighty work of yet another sunset. 

All I could could think was, “praise God!”. I was quickly reminded of the Pslam with which my heart just spoke:

“From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭113:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God is worthy of all our praise, for all our days! He is the One who holds us all together, and without Him we would be without hope. Thank you God for another day to worship you.

Worn Out

This morning I’m feeling worn out.

Work has been really busy the past few weeks, especially since we have had two experienced employees leave for another company. This has left me as the last senior level employee on our team. While it is a blessing to be in that position, as I am able to help mentor the new people, it has also resulted in the work load being non stop and very heavy.

My body (which I take full responsibility for) is running low on energy. It’s been drained by running and working out in this heat. And I haven’t been getting to bed at my normal bedtime, something this cup of coffee cannot fix.

My mind has been stretched with reading scripture and a new book, trying to process all that I read. I recently picked up a new book, Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen, and wow is that a tough read. The style of writing is tough, the vocabulary is beyond me, and the message is so packed with truth. Long story short, my reading comprehension skills have always been weak, but since the day I was saved I have found a new love for reading. So I read a lot, but there’s a big bottleneck of what I come out with.

As I walked to the break room to grab some water, this bible verse popped up on my phone, and the timing was perfect.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

Despite all of my worries, all the things that have me worn out, all of the things of this world, I can come to Jesus with it all, and He will give me rest. He cares so much for you and for me, that we can cast all of our cares on Him. We can trust in Him with it all. That is a promise which brings rest to our soul!