Posts Tagged ‘hard times’

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But I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…” (Philippians‬ ‭3‬:‭13‬ NLT)

When I was a Youth Pastor, my Pastor and mentor, Gary Elrod, kept all his sermons in yearly binders, called them his “recipe books” that he could draw from. In my office today, I have the same thing. But in that line up of binders, going back to 1998, is one small, red binder: 2002, the hardest year of my life.

Just because we walk the Christ Life path does not guarantee us a life free from pain, or even a sustained season of it. But our mindset must be on the God who not only brings us into the valleys, but also has plans for us on the other side of them! So we can do as Paul did, letting go of whatever things have held you back or haunted your mind, and then pressing on with a confident reassurance of a new season while being held in the mighty hand of God!

On my sermon shelf are plenty of binders that stretch past that little red one. I keep it as a reminder that, as the Bible says, “it came to pass…” Allow God to convict, correct, heal, and guide your new year. Resolve the old and make room for the new life ahead! You are loved!

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Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, ‘You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.'” (Psalms‬ ‭142‬:‭5‬ NLT)

In 1977, daredevil mountain climber Doug Scott and team scaled Baintha Brakk, a notorious Pakistani mountain known as “the Ogre”, the first to reach it’s rocky summit. But on the descent down, Scott broke both legs below his knees. Determined to live, he crawled down the mountain for 7 days over 6,500′, through blizzard and starvation! And if that’s not bad enough, his rescue helicopter crashed at the hospital, and again he crawled away to safety!

I can only imagine that in those moments of pain and desperation, Doug Scott didn’t care for fame or riches, but simply to be safe and sound. Hard circumstances are good for reminding us what’s important and where our priorities need to change. Our own cry in those moments would be that of the Psalmist: “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.”

As you come to Church today, don’t be fixated by what you may be going through. We all simply go from one crisis to another. Instead, tell God how grateful you are that He is that reliable refuge, regardless of whichever problem you currently face. With God securely entrenched in us, everything else in life is merely icing on the cake! You are loved today! See you at Church!

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I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease!” (Lamentations 3:20-22 NLT)

“Shirley’s” life was a tough one. She had endured a hard childhood and was widowed several times over. It seemed that wherever she went, tough times seem to follow. But to me, Shirley was an inspiration, because she always trusted God to take care of her. And He always did!

The Book of Lamentations in the Bible is a tough read. The devastations it chronicles are not God’s mean abuses but the results of Israel’s abandonment of God. Everything they endured was due to their own bad decisions. Half way through the tough times, the writer changes his course: “Yet I still dare to hope…”! Even in those darkest moments of self-inflicted problems, God is still there with us!

Your life may be like Shirley’s, where it seems like rough patches follow you; or you may identify with Israel, constantly paying for bad decisions. Regardless of how you get there, know that there is always hope when God is invited to show up! Awful times don’t destroy us, they define us. Let God define & refine you, making you assured of where your hope comes from! You are loved today! Live with hope!