Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah’

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”(Luke 4:18-19 ESV)

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus clearly identifies His mission by quoting from Isaiah 61.  This is a theme He returns to over and over again with statements such as:

The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

If you scan the gospels, it’s not difficult to see how Jesus prioritized His life and ministry:

  • The sinful over the righteous.
  • The sick over the well.
  • The least over the greatest.
  • The lost over the found.

Simply put: Seek the lost. Serve the least.

Does this describe the priorities of your life and ministry?
Why or Why not?

jesusIn this world today, it’s getting tougher and tougher to just survive. I’ve been getting a lot of question lately asking me where God is. So today I want to take an in-depth look at how to handle and revive ourselves in the midst of a darkened world. I found a great study from familylife (www.familylife.com) and gave posted it below. I hope it helps because there are some serious struggles going on out there today.   I hope it helps.
Facing tragedy, or life storms of any kind, can be extremely difficult. But in the midst of heartache and pain, you can find the hope and courage to go on. With God’s help, the help of caring family members and friends, and the encouragement found in the Bible and other resources, you will receive the necessary strength to overcome.

You may be thinking, “I don’t know how I could ever get through this.” Or you may be battling powerful feelings of despair, suffering, confusion, fear, worry, and even anger. These are all normal responses to tragedy.

But as difficult as this life storm may be, you are not alone. God is with you always. He loves you, and cares about what is going on in your life. He hears your cries and sees your pain. Moreover, He understands.

The Bible says, “And it was necessary for Jesus to be like us, his brothers, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God, a Priest who would be both merciful to us and faithful to God … For since He himself has now been through suffering … He knows what it is like when we suffer … and He is wonderfully able to help us” (Hebrews 2:17-18 TLB). Whatever we endure, His care is certain, His love is unfailing, and His promises are secure.

God Has Not Forgotten You includes 31 inspirational readings with life application steps to draw you closer to God and to encourage you to rely on Him to bring you safely through this present “storm” in your life. It can be read daily in 31 consecutive days, or at your own pace. We encourage you to work through this resource as a family to help you journey toward healing together, and to draw you closer to one another during this difficult time.

It is our prayer that this devotional will provide comfort, strength, encouragement, and healing for you and your family, and that through its pages you will discover extraordinary hope and the blessing of victory that only He can give. May God bless you and keep you always in His care, on this journey and beyond.

 

Day 1: You Are Not Alone

For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5c)

On the morning of August 29, 2005, hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents from south Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle faced their worst nightmare … Hurricane Katrina, a strong Category 4 storm, slammed into the Gulf Coast leaving death, injuries, and utter destruction in its wake. Families everywhere were jolted out of “normalcy” and the comfort and security of the homes and communities they once knew. They were thrust suddenly and unwillingly into the darkness and despair of loss.

If you and your family were affected by this tragic natural disaster, you may feel as if you’ve been abandoned by God, and by a government that seemed ill prepared to handle such catastrophe. However, if trouble has hit your life in some other disaster, or form of tragedy—the death of a loved one, a dreaded medical diagnosis, the loss of home and property, or the loss of your job, you are experiencing your own Category 4 storm. You may feel as if your whole world has been turned upside down, and wonder how you can possibly survive the loss. In times like these, you can feel very much alone.

But you are not alone. In the midst of unspeakable sorrow God is with you. Even if you do not feel Him near, God is there. He promises to never leave you alone. Therefore, wherever you are, God is. He is with you before, during, and after “the storm,” never losing sight of you, or your suffering. Even as you ponder how you will begin picking up the pieces of your life, God is there … loving you beyond understanding, holding you up, and making a way where it seems there is no way. Reach out for Him today. He is a very present help in times of trouble (see Psalm 46:1).

Taking back your life …

 

1. Psalm 139:7-10 says, “I can never be lost to Your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, You are there. If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, Your strength will support me” (TLB). What assurance can you find in these verses of Scripture when you are feeling as if God has forgotten you?

 

2. In Psalm 23, David pictures the Lord as the Great Shepherd who provides for and protects His sheep (His children). In verse four, he says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” A shepherd uses his rod to protect his sheep (by using it to beat off wild beasts), and he uses his staff to guide them. What comfort can you find in knowing that God will protect and guide you during this difficult time?

 

3. In addition to needing God’s presence in our lives, we also need each other. Talk with your family or friends about the way you are feeling, so that you can share one another’s burdens, and not feel so alone in your suffering.

Additional Scripture reading:

Deuteronomy 31:8
Psalm 91:15-16
Matthew 28:20

Day 2: He Sees and Understands Your Pain

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. (Psalm 34:15)

God knows in great detail the devastation caused by tragedy. He understands the pain and sorrow acquainted with grief and loss. He understands because He is all knowing. Furthermore, Jesus endured suffering (see Isaiah 53), and experienced pain, even the pain of feeling abandoned (see Matthew 27:46). And because God is with you always, He knows that you are hurting. He sees your pain, and hears the cries of your heart. You are not alone in your suffering; He is there for you.

God cares very deeply about you, and is attentive to every detail of your life—even those things that burden your heart. 1 Peter 5:7 says that you should cast “all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” Isn’t it comforting to know that God Almighty cares about you! It may seem like your life has been shaken to the core, but His love for you is never shaken. “‘For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10).

No matter how bad things may seem God is in control. Nothing happens without His knowledge. Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Not one sparrow (What do they cost? Two for a penny?) can fall without your Father knowing it. … So don’t worry! You are more valuable to Him than many sparrows.” If God’s eye is on the sparrow, He’s most certainly watching you. In the midst of sadness and uncertainty, His hand is there to guide you; His strength is there to support you. You are never out of His reach.

Taking back your life …

1. Look again at Isaiah 54:10 (above). How does this scripture apply to you and help to make your current circumstances bearable?

2. The writer of Psalm 121 says this of God in verse 8, ” He keeps His eye upon you as you come and go and always guards you” (TLB). How does it feel to know that God keeps watch over you and is attentive to every detail of your life?

3. In Psalm 138:8, the writer, offering thanksgiving and praise to God said confidently, “The Lord will work out His plans for my life—for Your loving-kindness, Lord, continues forever.” (TLB). Why not take a few moments to express to God your confidence in Him to work out His plans for your life.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 41:1
Psalm 121:3
Psalm 139:7-12,17,18

Day 3: Pouring Out Your Heart

 

The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17)

One of the most difficult things we can face in life is loss, and in the aftermath of a tragedy, the pain of loss can be very difficult to cope with. At times, it may even seem unbearable. Because God made us with feelings, there are many other difficult emotions we may experience when grieving or facing tough circumstances. We can feel hopeless, helpless, confused, fearful, anxious, and even angry. Recognizing these emotions, and releasing them in healthy ways, is extremely important in the journey toward healing and wellness. Ignoring or suppressing them can be very destructive, crippling to say the least.

What emotions do you feel in your heart? Heartache and pain are undoubtedly among them. You’re probably hurting so badly that all you really want to do is cry. And that’s okay! Even the Lord Jesus Christ wept when faced with the tragedy and sorrow of death (see John 11:35). He was so deeply moved within because of the sorrow resulting from Lazarus’ death that He began to weep.

Sure, it’s good to be strong in the midst of difficult circumstances, but it is also important to acknowledge the emotions that pain, suffering, and loss can bring. Think about it. How can your heart truly heal, if you don’t acknowledge that you’re hurting? So take the first step. Get alone with God, and tell Him honestly how badly you are hurting. Cry if you want to. Cry out to Him, “God, help me!” You will find that as you pour out your heart to the Lord, you’ll begin to feel the burdens of your soul roll away.

Taking back your life …

1. In Psalm 56:8 (TLB), David says of God, “You have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one in your book.” How does it make you feel to know how important your tears are to God?

2. Consider what you have lost in the aftermath of tragedy. As you pour out your heart and acknowledge the emotions you are working through, you can find comfort in the following Scriptures for …

 

· The death of a loved one: Matthew 5:4; Psalm 116:15; 2 Corinthians 5:8
· Facing a terrible illness: Psalm 103:3; Isaiah 53:5; Jeremiah 17:14; Matthew 26:39
· The separation of family members: Ephesians 3:20
· The loss of your job, home, and other possessions: Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:31-34
· Financial troubles: Psalm 34:10; Joshua 1:8; Luke 6:38
· The fear of all you have yet to deal with: Isaiah 41:10
· The destruction of your beloved city or community: Isaiah 58:12

 

Additional Scripture reading:

2 Kings 20:5b
Psalm 34:6
1 Peter 5:7

Day 4: Passing Through Deep Waters 

 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and though the rivers, they will not overflow you. … For I am the Lord your God …” (Isaiah 43:2-3a)

In a desperate fight for survival many people passed through the floodwaters left by Hurricane Katrina in a frantic search for higher ground. It had to be a frightening experience to wade, and in some areas, swim, through the murky, contaminated waters to save self, family members, neighbors, family pets, and in some cases, total strangers. But in the midst of fear, desperation, and uncertainty many passed through the deep waters courageously, and were eventually rescued and taken to safety.

As you pass through the deep waters of your circumstances, you may be wondering, “Who can rescue me from this?” Be encouraged! Even in the deepest of waters, God promises to be with the one who trusts in Him. He alone can truly rescue you and keep you from drowning. Just as Jesus rescued Peter when He invited him to walk on water in the midst of a storm (see Matthew 14:22-33). At first, Peter trusted Jesus and joined Him on the water, but as soon as he began to focus on the storm, and give in to the fear of it, he began to sink. Still, when he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 12:30) Jesus stretched out His hand and rescued Peter.

He can rescue you too. All you need do is take a deep breath of faith, reach out, and take hold of the mighty hand of God. Do not fear the deep, murky waters of uncertainty surrounding you. Though the way seems difficult, and at times impossible, you can be confident in this, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Taking back your life …

1. Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.” What encouragement can you find in this Scripture, when your situation seems too difficult?

2. Write down everything that seems impossible about your situation. Next to each item write, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Spend a few minutes in prayer about the items on your list, and be sure to thank God that none of those things are too big or too hard for Him to handle.

3. Commit Luke 1:37 to memory, and every time your situation seems too difficult or impossible, speak it to yourself, as a reminder that God can handle whatever is troubling you. As opportunities arise, you can encourage others using this verse as well.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 9:9-10
Psalm 37:40
Isaiah 26:3

Day 5: Finding Hope in God 

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

“Take from a man his wealth, and you hinder him; take from him his purpose, and you slow him down. But take from man his hope, and you stop him. He can go on without wealth, and even without purpose, for a while. But he will not go on without hope.”—C. Neil Strait.(1) As you think about your own circumstances, you may feel completely discouraged. The reality of what you are facing can seem so overwhelming, you might feel like giving up. But don’t give up. The circumstances may be too difficult in human terms, but in Christ there is always hope. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 TLB).

When you consider all that you are facing, ask yourself, “Is there anything too hard for God?” (See Jeremiah 32:17). Absolutely nothing! No matter what is going on in your life, you can trust that He is in control, and is working everything out for your good (see Romans 8:28). When you wake up in the morning and wonder how you will face the day, God is working it out. When you wonder how you can get through and overcome this difficult time, God is working it out. And when you lay down at night, wondering how you will face the challenges of tomorrow, whatever they may be, God is already working it out. God knows intimately the concerns of your heart (see Psalm 139:1-3), and can provide all the peace, strength, and courage you need. So don’t give up! Confidently hope in Him. Hope … and persevere!

 

Taking back your life …

1. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” What hope does this Scripture give you in the midst of tragedy, loss, and uncertainty?

2. Discuss as a family (or with a friend) how God has worked things out for your good in past times of difficulty.

3. Pray with someone else who shares your sorrow. Take turns praying for one another that God will encourage your hearts and give you hope.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 31:24
Romans 15:13
Ephesians 3:20-21

Day 6: A Constant Place of Refuge

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents found themselves taking refuge in shelters all over the United States. Three weeks later, Hurricane Rita, cut a new path of destruction through the Gulf Coast, forcing those who found refuge in Houston, and other areas near the coast to participate in yet another evacuation. Then on the heels of Rita came the wildfires in Southern California, the earthquake in Pakistan, and the mudslides in Guatemala, displacing even more families.

If you and your family have been displaced as a result of tragedy you may be experiencing feelings of anxiety, insecurity, uncertainty, and more. Or if you are facing death or disease you may feel like running for shelter … a place to hide. There is a place where anyone facing tragedy can go—a place that provides our spirits never-ending shelter from danger, and offers powerful strength to weather any storm life may bring our way. That place is in God. In Psalm 32:7, David says this of God, “You are my hiding place; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance.”

Though life is sometimes difficult and painful, when we take shelter in Him, His help is always ready, has been proven time and time again, and is completely reliable. In Psalm 62:7-8 (TLB), David wrote, “He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust Him all the time. Pour out your longings before Him, for He can help!” Like David, you can take shelter in His protective presence. There you will find peace for today, strength for tomorrow, and hope for a brighter future.

Taking back your life …

1. In Psalm 57:1-2 David prayed, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.” How can you use or apply this prayer to your circumstances today?

2. How does it feel to know that you can find permanent shelter in God, where everything you need (peace, joy, strength, protection, hope, etc.) is provided?

3. When you have some time. Open a Bible and read Psalm 91 to learn more about the blessings of taking refuge in God.

Additional Scripture reading:

Deuteronomy 33:27
2 Samuel 22:2-3
Psalm 32:7
Psalm 61:3-4

 

Day 7: Tapping into the Power of Prayer

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. … This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of al his troubles. (Psalm 34:4,6)

Throughout the Bible God makes it clear that our prayers are very important to Him. He loves for us to talk with Him, just as we would our closest friend, and promises to be there for us whenever we call. He says, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

He wants you to tell Him about your burdens, and to give Him all your cares, so that He can bring hope to your heart, peace to your soul, and strength to your life (see 1 Peter 5:7). But even when you’re at a loss for words, and don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit Himself speaks on your behalf (see Romans 8:26). Yet God is not only interested in your struggles. He wants you to talk with Him about everything, from your smallest victories to your greatest fears and all things in between.

Isn’t it good to know that you have a direct line to God? That He is available to talk to you anytime, day or night? In fact, you can talk to Him right now. Tell Him how you’re feeling; that you’re hurting. Tell Him about your disappointment. Talk to Him about your anger and your pain. Tell Him how you love Him and need Him so. He hears your weeping, your requests, your praise, and thanksgiving. Prayer moves God. And when He moves in your life, you will feel His presence, experience His peace, and draw from His strength in ways you never thought possible! (2)

Taking back your life …

1. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” God actually invites us to spend time in His presence to communicate with Him. Will you accept His invitation?

2. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are told to “Pray without ceasing.” How can you stay in constant communication with God? Why is this communication so important?

3. Start a prayer journal today. You don’t have to use a fancy notebook. Any paper that you can find will work. Use the journal to write down your feelings, emotions, and struggles as if you are writing letters to God. List your specific requests at the end of each page, and as God answers your prayers, be sure to write down the date and the way in which He answered you.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 61:1-4
Psalm 138:3
1 John 5:14-15

 

 

Day 8: Trusting God Completely 

Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. (Romans 4:20-21)

Have you ever noticed the depth of a little child’s trust? Maybe you’ve seen it with your own child, or observed another child trust his parents without thought or doubt. For instance, when a child, who doesn’t know how to swim, stands at the edge of a pool; and his dad, in the water with hands lifted, says to the child, “Jump, I’ll catch you.” The child jumps without a thought, worry, or care. His actions say to his father, “I trust you.” But if in the same scenario the child appears to be worried and refuses to jump into his father’s arms, he is struggling with fear and doubt. It is safe to say that this father may have proven himself to be untrustworthy.

But God is not a man that He should lie, or deceive, or change his mind. He does not have limitations or possess human failings. God never fails. He is completely trustworthy. Unlike an earthly father, your Heavenly Father never makes mistakes. No matter how grim or intimidating your situation may seem, He is in control and you can trust that He will guide you safely through it.

Referring to His sheep, Jesus says, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:29-30). Is Jesus your Shepherd? Then you are safe in God’s hands. Be as a little child—without fear or doubt—and trust. (3)

Taking back your life …

1. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” In what areas do you need to stop leaning on your own understanding and trust God instead?

2. Once you identify the areas in which you need to trust God more, give those areas to Him in prayer, one by one. A sure way to tell if you have truly given a concern to Him, and are trusting Him to handle it, is if you are no longer burdened with fear, worry, or doubt regarding that concern.

3. Why not add those concerns or issues to your prayer journal? Be sure to write down the date that you entered your concerns, and leave enough empty space so that you can come back to that page and write down the ways in which God helped you to resolve each issue.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 55:22
Psalm 62:8
Isaiah 12:2
 

Day 9: Experiencing His Peace 
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He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! (Isaiah 26:3 TLB)

While traveling by boat on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus and His disciples encountered a violent storm. The waves were crashing over the boat so much it was beginning to fill up with water. Nevertheless, Jesus was at peace. He was fast asleep. But the disciples, seeing the storm, became overwhelmed. They woke Jesus up saying, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing? And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?'” (Mark 4:38-40). He was really asking, “Why are you afraid? Don’t you know who’s in the boat with you?”

When tragedy hits, it’s easy to look at the bigness of our circumstances and become overwhelmed. But like the disciples, focusing on the bigness of our circumstances can keep us from seeing the bigness of our God, and His ability to calm “the storm.” You see, even the strongest natural disaster, or most devastating tragedy is no match for the power of God. Isn’t it encouraging to know that Jesus is in the boat with you as you navigate the rough waters of life’s storms? He’s with you right now. You are safe and secure in His Hands. What’s more, He promised you His peace. He said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Amid difficulties you can experience the peace of God—a peace that rises above our understanding (see Philippians 4:7). So, refrain from worrying, and allow His peace to comfort you.

Taking back your life …

1. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, challenge yourself not to worry about anything, but instead, pray about everything. Take a few minutes right now to tell God what you’re worried about. Tell Him what your needs are. Then thank Him in advance for meeting those needs. And allow His peace, which cannot be explained, to keep you in these difficult times.

2. How can experiencing God’s peace in the midst of this tragedy help you to better work through your situation and all that you are facing?

3. Discuss your feelings of being worried, anxious, or distressed with your spouse (or friend) then pray together for God’s peace. Make a commitment to hold each other accountable to not worry about anything but to instead pray about everything, so that you can continually experience the peace of God during this difficult time.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 29:11
John 16:33
Philippians 4:4-9

 

 

Day 10: Reaching Out for Help 

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow … (Psalm 31:9-10a)

Living through a tragedy of any kind can be a traumatic experience. You can feel as if your life has been shattered—that nothing will ever be the same—that peace and joy could never again be possible. You may battle powerful feelings of shock, hurt, confusion, fear, worry, and even anger. This is a normal and necessary response to tragedy and loss, a part of the process toward healing. However, for some, grief can become complicated, and if left unchecked, can turn into depression. One of the warning signs is when a person finds it too difficult to face, or even make it through the day. That’s when you know that they are not coping well at all.

How about you? How are you coping? Are you feeling depressed? Experiencing panic attacks? Having trouble sleeping? Lashing out in anger? Isolating yourself from family and friends? Any or all of these symptoms may be a normal first step in the healing process for you. But if you are having difficulty moving beyond this step, pastoral, or professional counseling may be necessary to move forward. Otherwise, you may begin to respond in unhealthy ways that can have lifelong effects such as becoming bitter, giving up on life, turning to drugs or alcohol, or even considering suicide.

Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Your family and friends are depending on you, just as you are undoubtedly looking to them for encouragement and support. Start by setting up some time with a pastor or counselor to guide your spirit toward wellness. Above all, don’t give up! With God’s help, and your willingness, YOU CAN MAKE IT!

Taking back your life …

1. Does it seem as if you just can’t be comforted or relieved from your despair? If so, pray to God and tell Him what you need. Be completely honest about the way you are feeling, and ask Him to guide you in finding the help you need. But don’t stop there. Tell someone you trust that you need help to overcome your grief. Perhaps God will use that person or someone else to guide you to a pastor or godly counselor that can help.

2. Be sure to talk to a doctor about any physical symptoms (severe headaches, dizziness, chest pain, etc.) you may be experiencing as a result of this tragedy and the stress related to it. It is important to care of your physical body as you journey toward complete wellness.

3. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” What encouragement does this Scripture give you as you think about the journey to wellness that is before you?

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 34:18
Proverbs 13:12a
John 16:33

 

 

Day 11: Receiving His Strength

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. (Isaiah 40:29)

It takes a great deal of strength to face the devastating affects tragedy and loss can have on your life. The pain of all that you are facing not only weakens your heart, it weakens your body. It may take all the strength you have, to take care of your physical needs, such as eating, grooming, and interacting with others; let alone dealing with insurance claims, financial troubles, and the many decisions needing to be made about the immediate future. There may be days when you feel as if you don’t have the strength to go on.

But God has not called you to face this tragedy in your own strength. In your own strength you can lose heart and become discouraged. But in your weakness, you can find strength in Him, just as Paul did when he asked the Lord to heal him of a physical condition, and God said No, but I am with you. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you; for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Likewise, no matter how challenging things get, or how weary you become, He is with you, and you can rely on His all-powerful strength to get you through. He never grows weary (see Isaiah 40:28).

Are you carrying a burden that seems too heavy to bear? Tell Him so. Then ask Him to show His strength in your time of weakness. Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Receive His strength today! He can give you strength of mind, strength of body, strength of spirit, and all the power you need to rise above your circumstances and overcome! (4)

Taking back your life …

1. Look again at Isaiah 40:31 (above). What encouragement does this verse give to you in your weariness? How can you apply this verse to your life?

2. Talk with your spouse, a close friend, or relative about your weariness and about your need for God to make you strong. Pray together (or alone) and ask God to strengthen your mind, body, and spirit with His strength.

3. God also uses others to encourage and support us in times of need. If you find that getting out of bed, handling everyday responsibilities, or even thinking clearly is too difficult, ask someone you trust to help you find a counselor to assist you with the healing process. And allow others to help you with things like cooking, cleaning, and caring for your children until you begin to feel stronger.

Additional Scripture reading:

Habakkuk 3:19
Isaiah 41:10
Ephesians 3:16

 

 

Day 12: Turning Aside Pride 

 

A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

Have you heard the biblical story of the Good Samaritan? In that story he, unlike others who had opportunity, demonstrated compassion for a man who had become the victim of a vicious attack by robbers. The Good Samaritan bandaged up the man’s wounds, brought him to an inn, and took care of him (see Luke 10:30-35). But what about the man he helped? What if this man, who had been left for dead, refused the help of the Good Samaritan because of pride? Where might his pride have left him? Alone? Dying on the side of the road? Wouldn’t he have missed out on his blessing from God?

We all experience hard times. They’re a part of life. And when those times come, and we’re hurting, there are people who will come alongside us, to help in any way possible to ease the pain. It is God at work through the kindness and generosity of others—like the Good Samaritan. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father …” (James 1:17). Still, you might be thinking, “But I don’t want people to think I’m poor! I had a job before all of this!” Or, “I don’t want people feeling sorry for me!” Though this kind of pride is natural, it is wrong. “… For God gives special blessings to those who are humble, but sets himself against those who are proud” (1 Peter 5:5d TLB).

Don’t allow pride to keep you from accepting kindness from others, graciously, and with a thankful heart. That’s what the Christian community is really all about—helping, encouraging, and building up one another. So turn aside pride today! “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:10).

Taking back your life …

1. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” In what ways have people encouraged you, or built you up during this difficult time?

2. If you have received help from others with a bitter heart because of a pride, ask God’s forgiveness. Then ask Him to give you a humble heart, and an attitude of gratitude for the wonderful ways in which He has met your needs through the generosity of others.

3. Make a special effort today to tell someone “Thank you,” when they share God’s gift of kindness and goodwill with you. You can say it to the volunteer serving your next meal, to one of the workers in the shelter where you’re staying, to the people who have come to bring food, clothing, or other supplies, to the person who has come to express their condolences, or to the family who has opened their home to you. It’s a great way to bless them as they seek to bless you.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 72:12-14
Proverbs 11:2
Galatians 6:2

Day 13: Resolving Feelings of Anger

 

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil and opportunity. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

Difficult circumstances can bring about many emotions in the hurting heart. One of those emotions is anger. When you are suffering, or facing difficult challenges, there may be many feelings at the root of your anger. You may be feeling betrayed by God, wondering why He allowed such a disaster to hit your home … and your life. You may wonder, “If God loves me, why did He allow this to happen? Why won’t He take the pain away?” These and other questions (which we’ll discuss tomorrow) can evoke anger toward God. Your anger may also stem from feelings of insecurity as a result of loss; or from uncertainty as you face major, unexpected life-changes and an unclear future.

Though anger is a natural, human emotion, and a normal part of the journey toward healing, left unchecked, anger can be a dangerous emotion that may lead to sin, such as unforgiveness. If not resolved, it can give the enemy an opportunity to destroy your hope, steal your peace, poison your heart with bitterness, damage relationships, and keep you from moving forward.

You can face and resolve your anger by first being honest with yourself and with God about what you are feeling. He is big enough to handle your anger and to help you resolve it. Talk to Him about your doubts and fears, and what is causing rage in your heart. Tell Him, “God, I am so angry!” He will not turn His back on you. So, give your angry feelings to the Lord, and trust Him to replace those feelings with peace, forgiveness, and strength. Freedom from unchecked anger is freedom to heal. (5)

Taking back your life …

1. Talk with someone who would be comfortable listening to you vent your anger. Discuss the feelings that may be at the root of this emotion. Identifying these feelings and expressing them verbally will help you to work through your anger.

2. Hebrews 10:30 says, “For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will Repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.'” How can you apply this Scripture to how you are feeling about those who hurt you or let you down during this tragedy?

3. If you have harbored anger in your heart, confess this anger to God, and if applicable, or possible, to the one who has hurt or offended you. Then release your anger by forgiving them. Not only is forgiveness a requirement to be forgiven (Matthew 6:14), resolving your anger and forgiving those who have hurt you will free your heart to truly heal. Have you, in anger, hurt or offended your spouse, child, or someone else during this difficult time? If so, repent by confessing this to God and to that person, and ask for forgiveness. Make sure the wounded relationship is healed. Then prove your repentance and sincerity by controlling your anger (see Acts 26:20).

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 37:8
Ephesians 4:32
Colossians 3:8
 

Day 14: Asking the Hard Questions
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

When life got him down, Asaph, one of King David’s key men, cried out to God and asked Him some hard questions. He asked, “Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His lovingkindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious, or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion?” (Psalm 77:7-9). Asaph wasn’t the only man in the Bible to ask God hard questions. In the Book of Job, we find that in his suffering, Job asked hard questions. After losing his family, and everything he had, he argued his case before God, but even when God’s answers may not have been what he expected, he never lost faith.

Tragedy can challenge our faith and raise many questions. Questions like: Why is this happening? Where is God when it hurts? Why doesn’t He do something? Where is the protection He promised? God isn’t offended when we ask questions in our despair. He wants us to come to Him when we’re confused. However, like Job, it’s important that we learn to resist being critical of God, keeping in mind that He is the supreme ruler, the Most High, all-knowing, and in control of all things, including our lives. (See Job 38:2).

So bring your heartfelt questions to God and ask Him to help you understand. But be prepared to accept His answers, even if they’re not what you expected to hear (see Job 38-41). And whatever you don’t understand, acknowledge His authority, knowing that the God who created the heavens and the earth, loves you beyond comprehension, and is able to give you mercy and “grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Taking back your life …

1. What are some of the hard questions that you want to ask God about your current circumstances? Ask those questions in prayer. What has God revealed to you?

2. On a piece of paper, write down some of the questions that you feel are yet unanswered. Then after truly giving those unanswered questions over to God in prayer, tear the paper up and toss it, as a symbol of your trust in Him with all that you don’t understand.

3. Sometimes in asking God the hard questions, like Job, we can become critical of His dealings with us. In Job 38-41 God makes it clear why a creature (man) should never become a critic of the Creator. Through a series of questions God shows Job of his (man’s) ignorance as compared with God’s greatness. This opens Job’s eyes to God’s ultimate authority, and he repents of his pride and rebellion. If you have criticized God’s dealings with you in your current circumstances, ask Him to forgive you. Then acknowledge that He is in full control of your life, and in all that He allows you to experience. Thank Him for loving you, and for providing all that you need to help you during this difficult trial, and for accomplishing His purposes in you through it all.

Additional Scripture reading:

Isaiah 55:8-9
Jeremiah 33:3
James 1:5

 

Day 15: Giving Thanks in Everything
No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 TLB)

When reading this Scripture, you may question, “How can I possibly be thankful in the midst of such pain? It feels like my life has been shattered into a million pieces, and I’m not even sure what tomorrow will bring!” David said in Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” The words “at all times” means in all circumstances, no matter what. But God isn’t instructing us to be thankful for difficult circumstances. He wants us to be thankful in them, knowing that He is faithful, and able to help us overcome. When we are thankful in difficult times, our attitude says to Him, “I trust You. I know You can handle this.” He in turn blesses us with peace of mind, strength of spirit, and the power to make it through.

We cannot know all that God has planned to do in the midst of tragedy, but we can be thankful that He promises to be with us, and that the outcome will be for our good. He always keeps His word. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth … So shall my word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire …” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Remember that God is a deliverer. He delivered His people in the past, and He will deliver you out of all your troubles in the future (Psalm 34:6). Additionally, He will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19). And when you rely on Him, He will not fail you (Hebrews 13:5c). Understanding this, you can give thanks in everything. (6)

Taking back your life …

1. Why does God instruct His children to be thankful in everything and in every circumstance?

2. Discuss with your family those things that you can be thankful for in the midst of your current circumstances. For instance, you might thank Him for His presence in your life, for loving you, protecting you, providing for you through the goodwill of others, etc.

3. Spend some time together (or alone) in prayer, thanking God for the blessings in your life in the midst of tragedy and loss. Make this the beginning of a daily habit, even as you continue to face this difficult trial.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 100:4
Psalm 103:1-5
1 Corinthians 15:57

 

Day 16: Laying Aside Every Weight

 

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV)

In a marathon, or any other competitive race, runners normally wear sleek uniforms and lightweight shoes, designed to take advantage of aerodynamics and quicken their pace. They also endure strenuous physical training to help them reach their maximum potential, and their goal of finishing, or better yet, winning the races set before them. But can you imagine a world-class runner competing in a race with weights attached to his wrists and ankles? It would be safe to say that he wouldn’t have a chance at winning, in fact, he probably wouldn’t even finish the race.

1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” Consider your current circumstances. Think of it as the race that is set before you. Imagine you’re running hurdles in a track meet. Are you spiritually fit to run? Or is depression, fear, anger, worry, or doubt weighing you down? Rather than allow these to hinder you, why not view them as obstacles or hurdles on the track. Start your training by talking to God about every thing that is holding you back. Then trust Him to help you leap over each one. With God’s help you can overcome your greatest obstacles as you push toward the finish line of your current circumstances. Lay aside every weight, therefore, and run to win! (7)

Taking back your life …

1. Psalm 121:1-3 says, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip …” What encouragement can you find in this Scripture for overcoming your greatest obstacles?

2. Make a list of those obstacles that are weighing you down, such as depression, fear, anger, worry, or doubt. God’s promises for overcoming each one can be found in the Bible. Find all the Scripture promises you can for overcoming each one. Here are some promises to get you started …

 

Depression: Psalm 147:3
Fear: 2 Timothy 1:7
Discouragement: Philippians 1:6
Worry: Isaiah 26:3
Doubt: Psalm 18:30
Confusion: Proverbs 3:5-6

 

3. Look at the promises that you’ve listed. Pray these, and the promises listed above, back to God according to your needs then trust Him daily to help you overcome each obstacle.

Additional Scripture reading:

Zechariah 4:6b
John 8:32,36
Revelation 12:11

 

 

Day 17: Defeating Negative Thoughts

 

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV)

In addition to lightweight attire, and physical fitness, mental fitness is equally important for an athlete to have a competitive edge. It has been said that if a runner’s head is not in the race, he will not compete well. If he thinks he will lose, it’s possible that he’s already lost the race before it even begins. The phrase “Don’t beat yourself,” in reference to negative thinking, is a popular one among athletes of every sport.

The same holds true of any challenge we face in life. If we think we will be defeated, there’s a good chance we will. Proverbs 23:7a says, “For as [a man] thinks within himself, so he is.” Sure, it’s normal to feel sorrow, pain, confusion, fear, and uncertainty, amid tragedy and loss. But if you allow these feelings to control your thoughts, it can be extremely difficult to overcome … to finish the race victoriously.

You might be thinking, “But this is just too difficult to deal with! I’m in a desperate situation. I have no money, no job, no idea what to do, or where to go. How can I possibly start over?” Or, “I’m not strong enough, and I’m afraid. I just don’t think I can make it.” Don’t beat yourself! Instead, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” (Philippians 4:8 TLB). And whenever a negative thought comes to mind, and tries to bring you down, you can defeat it by counteracting it with a promise from God’s Word. Give yourself a competitive edge to triumph over your circumstances. Dwell on the positives!

Taking back your life …

Practice counteracting negative thoughts with positive thoughts, such as promises from God’s Word. For example, if you are thinking …

 

  • But this is too difficult to deal with! You can recite Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”
  • I‘m in a desperate situation. You can recite Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
  • I have no money and no job. You can recite Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your (my) needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
  • I have no idea what to do, or where to go. You can recite Psalm 23:3, “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness.”
  • How can I possibly start over? You can recite Revelation 21:5, “And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.'”
  • I’m not strong enough. You can recite Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
  • I’m afraid. You can recite 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us (me) the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
  • I just don’t think I can make it. You can recite Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you (me) will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 19:14
Philippians 4:6-7
Romans 12:2

jesus“John … testified to the truth… I mention it that you may be saved.”—John 5:33-34

A stranger to our Christmas culture could well wonder, “Who is this Jesus who causes so much celebration?”

People already wondered about this Bethlehem baby at his birth. Then they questioned even more when he began to preach, and feed, and heal. Who was Jesus, that he could do and say these things?

When Jesus received hostile questions, he took the time to answer. He even produced five witnesses: himself, John, his works, the Father, and the Scriptures.

Perhaps John’s clearest testimony came when he and Jesus met as adults. John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Soon afterward he added, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One” (John 1:34). That testimony was John’s “light,” and it pointed to Jesus, whose testimony was even “weightier than that of John.” The religious leaders to whom Jesus was speaking, however, refused “to come to [him] to have life.”

Jesus clearly fulfills God’s great promise of help and hope. He is the one sent by God to save his people, to “bring justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1).

We also have heard the testimony about Jesus. Are we choosing to enjoy him? Are we committing to him for life? Take the time to realize the reason for the Season and recommit/

These are hard times, and sometimes my words fail to comfort others, so here are some verses to comfort you, or for you to remind others, during the tough times of their lives.

 

  • “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. Psalm 46:1-3,7
  • ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10
  • For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. 2 Tim 1:7 (AMP)
  • I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8 (AMP)
  • Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail). Psalm 55:22 (AMP)
  • He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved. Psalm 62:6 (AMP)
  • Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. 1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)
  • The Lord is good, a Strength and Stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows (recognizes, has knowledge of, and understands) those who take refuge and trust in Him. Nahum 1:7 (AMP)
  • “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3