“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21 NIV)
I’m a firm believer in God’s power to resurrect anything and anyone (just read Rise Again!). But for Him to do that He often allows us to experience a death of sorts. There are probably relationships that He has allowed to end because they don’t serve His plan and purpose for your life anymore. Perhaps you were let go of a job you had for years because God has something better in store for you and it’s time to let go of the old to make way for the new. But what I have learned is that we can still have peace and joy in the midst of our grief.
My favorite season is fast approaching. Fall is a beautiful reminder of what it means to let go. Please don’t miss the point. The difficult times only last for a season. New things will eventually spring up in due season. It’s okay to grief the things God has chosen to take away, but remember that He never takes anything without replacing it with something better. That’s enough reason to fall on our knees and praise Him, as Job did in today’s passage. Although Job lost much, God gave him double for his trouble, “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12 NKJV). Job is such an extraordinary figure in Scripture because he learned to get back up after getting knocked down. We can do the same.
“Life is not about how many times you fall down. It’s about how many times you get back up.”
He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)
When England’s handsome Prince William didn’t propose sooner to his then long time girlfriend, Kate Middleton, she was ungraciously nicknamed “Waity Kaitie.” On their engagement interview, however, William explained that his decision to wait was an opportunity for Kate to see if that’s the kind of life she wanted to be a part of. People eventually praised William for his choice of wife, and Kate for being wise enough to wait for her prince charming.
I don’t know what you’ve been taught about time, but if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years is that time is not the enemy. Like the writer of Ecclesiastes, I learned that truth from God Himself. The One who doesn’t measure time the way we do and isn’t bound by it. Unlike us, God isn’t in a hurry to make things happen. Therefore, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Beautiful things take time to manifest. That is why everything God makes is beautiful. Our enemy, the devil, wants us to believe that time is the enemy, but it isn’t. Remember that it was Satan who tempted Adam and Eve to believe in instant gratification, and it’s also he who tempted Jesus to believe the same. Thankfully, Jesus knew that there were no shortcuts around God’s plan of redemption. No matter how long it takes, we will eventually arrive to where we need to be. Let’s keep calm and wait.
I’ve been thinking a lot about those “God moments” lately. The countless times that I’ve seen God come through for me and others, turning things around for our good and His glory. Those moments when we knew for certain that it couldn’t have been anyone else “but God!” We can all agree that the only time we can hear the word “but” in a sentence and not fret is when God is involved. Here are a few of them:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
There are many other “but God” verses in the Bible that carry positive connotation. Isn’t that good news?
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25 NIV)
There’s a common theme in every resurrection story we read about in the Bible. After funeral arrangements were made and some of the dead were ready to be buried (or were already buried), Jesus came along and disrupted the funeral progression. The son of the widow of Nain was about to be buried but Jesus brought him back to life (see Luke 7:11-17). Then there’s Lazarus who was already buried and Jesus resurrected him (see John 11:1-44).
Jesus is still in the business of restoring lives. When people write us off as dead, giving up on us, deeming us a lost cause, He comes along and brings us back to life, proving to them who He is! While the devil is planning our death and burial, Jesus thwarts his plans. Because Jesus has been there. The devil once planned the Savior’s death and burial, but Jesus triumphed over it all and it is He who promises to resurrect us as well. We can count on Him because He is the Lord of life!
Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:5 BSB)
Visiting the sunflower fields around this time of year has become a favorite tradition of mine. Besides the beautiful bright fields, which I love to capture, I’m always in awe of how the sunflowers face the direction of the rising sun. In fact, it is to their benefit to look towards the sun. After all, that’s where they derive their name! The sunflowers inspire us to do the same as Christians: look to the Son from whom we derive our name.
In today’s scripture, David reminds us, “Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces shall never be ashamed.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in desperate need of light this year. And the only way to get through the darkness has been to look to the Son. It’s only when I’ve kept my eyes fixed on Him that I’ve been able to keep my joy, and His joy is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10)! Even though the natural light reveals hidden flaws, His Light draws us closer and doesn’t condemn us. Let’s take a leaf from the sunflower and look to the Son! We’ll never be disappointed!
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). (John 10:10 AMPC)
Isn’t it interesting how whenever we’re in the middle of a celebration, something “suddenly” happens that tries to steal our joy? I’ve noticed that whenever there’s a joyous occasion in my life or in the life of someone I know, something (or someone) always tries to ruin that happy moment. I use the word “try” because it doesn’t have to be that way, if we don’t let it.
See, the devil is a joy thief. He really doesn’t want us to enjoy life. He will do anything to steal, kill and destroy our joy in life. But just like you would do whatever it takes to keep a thief away, you can keep the devil from stealing your joy. Our best defense is Jesus. He has the power to keep us safe and happy. He came and paid the price so we “may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” Guard that joy with all you’ve got and don’t let the devil take it away!
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2 NIV)
We live in a social media world where we’re quick to share almost anything to the point that we’ve forgotten about the importance of patience and silence. So often we start doing something but rarely carry through with it. No wonder we’ve grown so impatient with God! Although He may be silent, He is still working. It’s only a matter of time before He unveils what He’s been working on. Just read the creation account in the book of Genesis and you’ll see. The world wasn’t made in an instant! We’re called to trust God. Because more often than not, He does come through for us in some mighty way. Think of His silence as a sign of His awesome work about to be revealed. I’m a firm believer in His promise that we will see greater things when we trust Him enough to wait for His perfect timing.
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2 NIV)
“I will bless you…and you will be a blessing,” God promised Abram and really, all of his descendants, because there’s no such thing as selfishness or greed in God’s economy. When God blesses us, He expects us to bless others. We’re not meant to be like the rich fool in Jesus’ parable who thought that blessings should be stored rather than shared (see Luke 12:13-21). The rich fool missed the point. There was no room to store the abundance because it was meant to go around. Instead of building more storage that couldn’t contain his blessings, he was supposed to share it with others.
I think about the countless people who have been blessed but don’t feel the need to share their blessings with others. Someone once told me that although they enjoy writing, they don’t like to put their ideas out there because they don’t want people to read them. That’s when I told them that as writers, we share our stories to inspire and uplift. As hard as it can be sometimes, God wants to bless someone else through our gifts and talents. There’s a reason why you were blessed with something and it’s not so you can keep it all to yourself. God blessed you to be a blessing. If your cup is running over, it’s because it wasn’t meant to hold the blessing, but to spill over to others (Psalm 23:5).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3 NIV)
We’re all blessed in different ways. But what amazes me the most is that the people we consider to be more blessed than others are usually the ones who don’t see themselves that way. In fact, they’re the ones who often want what someone else has been blessed with and even when they do get it they’re still miserable. It’s sad, isn’t it? You look at them and think, Why would you possibly want that when you’ve been blessed with something better, and Why are you still unhappy? That’s when you realize that they’re simply not counting their blessings. So they compete with others who have learned to be thankful for what they already have.
I once heard someone say that if we’re not thankful for what we have, God isn’t going to bless us with what we don’t have. And isn’t that the truth? Getting more is just going to make us more ungrateful. The problem is not that we’re not blessed because we are all blessed. The real problem is that we have stopped counting our own blessings and started counting someone else’s. A few years ago, I was gifted a blessings jar which motivated me to count my blessings. At the end of each year, I would open it and look back with gratitude at the things God had blessed me with that year. Being thankful for what you have not only makes you more blessed, it also makes you a happier person. So count your blessings.
God, your God, will restore everything you lost. (Deuteronomy 30:3 MSG)
God is a restorer. From restoring people who have wondered far away from Him to restoring our peace, hope and joy and right down to trivial matters, nothing is a lost cause for Him. Restoration is what He specializes in. He is a giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17) and it grieves Him when the enemy tries to steal what He has so graciously given us. Most, if not all, of us would agree that a lot has been lost, especially over the past few years. This year has been a year of loss in many ways, but also the year I’ve seen God come through in mighty ways and restore what’s been lost. I’ve seen God restore even the little things in my life that at times, I’m left in awe of how good and gracious He is! But the key to having everything restored to us is to turn to God. In today’s passage, the nation of Israel was reminded that restoration would only come after the people returned to the Lord (see Deuteronomy 30:1-10). And in that Scripture, God promises to restore everything to His people! God not only gives us back what we’ve lost, but gives us something even better in its place. What you think is lost, God can restore. Ask Him to do so today.