Chapter 15: In Weakness

Chapter 15: In Weakness

It is hard being a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For within the role is the dynamic of all of God and then all of who we are.

All of God are the miracles and the signs and the wonders.

All of us are the aches and pains and the loss and the sorrow that we each personally have.

We preach healing and we experience sickness ourselves.

We declare healthy lives and we struggle with estranged relationships.

We teach and lead others to Christ and then can barely find him for ourselves.

I am reminded of Elijah in the book of 1 Kings chapters 18 & 19.

Elijah was a mighty man of God.  He walked in obedience and risked his life time and again to bring the word of the Lord.

For instance, in 1 Kings 18 we find him battling it out with the priests of Baal with a mighty result,

“Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust.  It even licked up all the water in the trench!”  1 Kings 18:38 NLT 

A great work of the Lord to be followed by another miracle (Read 1 Kings 18:41-44) and then special strength,

“Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah.  He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.” 1 Kings 18:46 NLT

All of this simply shows the Holy Spirit pouring through Elijah.  As God and Elijah worked as one, mighty miracles took place and a great witness of the Lord’s power was established.

And then that particular work was over and Elijah went off into the wilderness and we read,

“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”  1 Kings 19:4b NLT

After the great works of the Lord Elijah finds himself despondent and oh so very human. 

He is dejected and tired, to the point of wanting the Lord to take him.

Don’t we all feel this in our persons?  After a work of God pouring through us we are simply reminded of our humanity and the frailty of our hearts and minds and lives.

Praying healing over a crowd, speaking God’s heart to your congregation, visiting the sick and the down-trodden, all this and more carries a mark of God upon it, and when the work ceases for a time we must simply rest.

I suggest that the exhaustion after God’s work is simply very normal.  It is something we can in fact expect, always remembering that in that exhausted place the Lord cares for us.

“Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree.  But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!”  He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water!  So he ate and drank and lay down again. 

Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said,  “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.  There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.”  1 Kings 19:5-9 NLT

Ministering the Lord to others is not about us being larger than life.  It is about the extraordinary of God stirring through our very ordinary lives.

If we expect to be extraordinary, we will be disappointed and disillusioned.

No, rather it is our God who is extraordinary.  And in fact, when we feel very human, we can be sure we have just encountered our living God.

For it is the contrast of us and God that reminds us of our weakness.

The good news is that where we know we are weak there the Lord is strong indeed.

Time and again we find in the Bible promises and hope for those who are weak:

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:29 NLT

Paul himself said this, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said,  “My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.”  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT 

In all this we come to find that there is nothing to fear in weakness.

We find that our humanity and the frailty of being human is exactly what God wants to harness for his Kingdom.

When we know our weakness, when we feel our humanity, that is when we depend on God more than ever before, and that is when there is more room for God to work.

And through it all, the hardships, the deprivations, and the sacrifice we find as the Psalmist did,

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”  Psalm 73:26 NLT 

Be strong in the Lord today, as you bring him your weakness.  Allow the Spirit to inhabit all of your life and simply be blessed today.

Application

The only thing, and most powerful thing, to do with our weaknesses is to dedicate them to the Lord, for his glory, and unto the Kingdom of God through us. 

  • Take some time to come to prayer and bring your weaknesses to God. 
  • Confess where you have been upset and angry about your weakness. 
  • Name the difficulty accompanied with your weakness. 
  • Tell God how you feel about your weakness. 
  • Then, commit your weakness to the glory of God, dedicate your weakness to his purposes. 

Prayer 

“God, today I come in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. Father, you know this weakness that I have, you know how I have struggled with this, and you know the purposes you have through it. Today I commit even my weakness to your glory and honour and to your plans and purposes. I declare that my weakness will contain the strength of the Lord, in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen”

Summary – In Weakness

In our weakness God proves strong.  Psalm 73:26

We serve the Lord and he does the work through us.  Philippians 2:13

God takes our ordinary and makes it extraordinary.  John 14:12

The work belongs to the Lord, we are conduits of Him.  John 5:30

Chapter 14: Our Journey

Chapter 14: Our Journey

This journey of walking with God is not always smooth.  We experience a lot of hurdles and bumps in the road.  There are times of confusion and disappointment.  There are times of frustration and upset.

These are really normal.  They are part of our experience as human beings.

Sometimes, especially when we are young in the Lord, we expect God to make everything great.

We think that if we walk with God then everything will go how we want it to go.

But this is rarely the case.  Using God in this way simply reveals us as children and God as something we would like to use.

God does not fix everything for us.  And the path he has us walk is not always smooth.  It is how we learn after all and how we come to rely on him.

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4  NLT 

As we walk with God there are a few things we can do to come to greater understanding of God’s leading and guiding of us.

1.  One is to have a bigger perspective than normal.  With God we are able to step back from our own experience and lives and look at things from God’s angle.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts”, says the Lord, “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”  Isaiah 55:8 NLT

How does he see this situation? How might God be leading me through this difficulty?  What might I learn from this?

“Joyful are those your discipline, Lord, those you teach with your instructions.” Psalm 94:12  NLT

There is not one wasted experience or situation in the Kingdom of God.

Everything is for our benefit and for our development. God is continually growing us and shaping us so that we can reflect Him more accurately and come to understand how much we are loved.

2.  The second thing is to allow options in our thinking.  We need bigger thinking.  Life is not all one way or another.  Often the Lord leads us in one way of thinking simply to get us to another spot.

God meets us where we are at and leads us from there.  He knows that we cannot make leaps in growth or understanding.

“Have you never heard?  Have you never understood?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of all the earth.  He never grows weak or weary.  No one can measure the depths of his understanding”  Isaiah 40:28 NLT

And so while we may think that ‘A’ is the answer, he knows that ‘F’ is really the solution. 

He takes us on journey’s of thought and practice to get us from ‘A’ (our thinking) to ‘F’ (his best solution).

This can be a disheartening journey.  Often we don’t really understand where he is taking us. But that is okay.

“Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser.  Teach the righteous and they will learn even more.”  Proverbs 9:9  NLT

While his leading is not a guarantee of our best wishes, he knows better than us what we need and is intent on getting us there.

God has our best interest at heart.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

3.  In this process he tests us again and again by having us lay down our desires.  Just like Abraham laying down his son’s life on the altar, we are tested the same.

Though we have good desires and pray for outcomes that will bring glory to God he sets up situations where time after time our motives are tested.

“Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.  Test my motives and my heart.” Psalm 26:2 NLT

Do we really want prayers answered for Him or for us?  Are we looking to the best interest of others, or of ourselves?

God brings hurdles and roadblocks to our lives to test us this way.  For he knows that with the wrong motives everything will come to an end.

“Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.”  Deuteronomy 8:2 NLT 

Our reasons for praying for this or for going after that must be refined and proven solid. 

Only then is He glorified and do our lives have real satisfaction.

Through all  of these things, 1) Learning to have bigger perspective, 2) Bigger thinking, and 3) Testing of our Motives, we mature and grow up.

Rather than little children who demand this or that, who cry out ‘But you said!’ we enter into a true partnership with the Lord.

“God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  1 Corinthians 1:9 NLT

We are wiser, we think differently, we pray differently, and we act differently.

God is in the people development business.  God is intent on growing us up into spiritual adults.

We welcome your growth in us Lord.  Thank-You.

Application

Take some time to think about your life and ask the Lord to show you how he has led you to where you are today. 

Each of our lives have undergone big changes from time to time.  We have transitioned into who we are today, and many of these transitions have been marked by what we call life-markers.  Life-markers are times in our history that we do not notice when we are in them, but looking back we can see them. 

Not everything that occurs in our lives are markers of transition. We cannot count everything in this way. Yet, it is a good exercise to look back on our lives and see and make note of how our life has progressed. 

Take some time before the Lord and with pen and paper.  If you are 30 years old or younger, identify 5 life-markers. If you are 30 years or older, identify 8 life-markers. 

A Life-Marker could be any of the following: 

  • an event in your life where you became a different person because of that time
  • a time where you had to grow and learn at a fast pace for the circumstances
  • a time when you had a thought or new understanding that changed the direction of your life
  • a crisis that changed your life in some way
  • a realization about yourself or about God that changed you as a person

You may have to begin by naming more life-markers than just five or eight, but narrow down your list to either five or eight life-markers, depending on your age. 

As an example, here are my life-markers: 

      1. accepted Christ at 6 years of age
      2. received the Holy Spirit and wisdom at 16 years old
      3. got married at 20 years and began having babies
      4. life fell apart from 30-35 years old
      5. began my inner healing journey in 2000
      6. hit by a car in 2005
      7. became single in 2009
      8. international launch of CCIM in 2011

Once you have your list of life-markers, look at each one and note 1-3 things that led up to that life-marker, and then note 1-3 effects of that time or event. 

For example – For my 6th life-marker:   ‘hit by a car in 2005’

leading up to this: 1. ignored a warning from God 

ongoing effects since then: 1. my career changed because of my physical limitations 2. my kids lives and family life became different because of my accident 3. I began seriously writing 4. today I write for many around the world 

As you can see in my own example, that getting hit by a car dramatically changed my life.  While that event was traumatic at the time, it was definitely not all bad.  In fact, that life-marker was a very important event in getting my life headed in the specific way that God wanted and with my becoming a more serious writer.  The impact is continuing to this day with this course and other materials used by pastors and leaders in many places. 

Now it is your turn: 

  • Make Your List of Life-Markers
  • Note 1-3 things that led up to that life-marker
  • Note 1-3 effects from that time or event

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • As you look at your list of life-markers what do you notice about your life? 
  • As you make note of the continuing effects from that time or event what comes to mind? 
  • As you look at your life-markers are you noticing anything new that you never thought about before? 
  • How has God worked through these things in your life?

Give Thanks to the Lord: 

Even though our lives contain both good and bad it is a valuable skill to be able to give thanks to the Lord in all things.  It is not easy to come through hard times and it is not easy to see God’s hand in our hard times.  I pray that through this exercise that you have been able to recognize where God has been in your life.  He is with us at all times even when it does not seem this way in the moments. 

Take some time before the Lord to thank him for your unique life-markers.  Thank him for where these things have brought you.  Thank him for what he has taught you through them.  Thank him for the continuing effects and the good that you can see from these things. 

Finally, claim your life and all of its parts for the glory of God.  Give praise to God for your life and dedicate it and yourself to him anew from this day on. 

Prayer

“God, I come before you today in thankfulness for my life and for your hand upon me.  I see that you have been with me even more than I realized.  Thank you.   Today I claim my life for the glory of God and in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank you Lord for the path you have had me on.  Although it has not always been easy I give it to you and I ask that you would use my entire life for your glory and honour and for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.  Thank you for giving me a part in your big plan for this earth and my communities and I give my life to your service in this.  Amen” 

Summary – our journey 

We can ask God for bigger understanding of our lives.  Isaiah 55:8

We take our thoughts captive to the purposes of the Lord.  Romans 12:2

We accept the testing of the Lord (it proves we are his child).  Psalm 26:2

We trust him for all we do not understand and cannot see.  1 Corinthians 1:9

We dedicate our lives to the glory of God.  Romans 12:1

Chapter 13: Prophetic Lives

Chapter 13: Prophetic Lives

In Job 9:33 we read, “If only there were a mediator between us, someone who could bring us together.” NLT

Job had been talking about the utter lost-ness of his position.  That no matter how much he tried, no matter how well he kept the law, no matter how perfect he could manage to live (and he did live an innocent life before God), it didn’t bridge that gap between him and God.  We find Job’s heart crying out for a mediator between himself and God.

Read all of Job 9.

What is so amazing is that Job had lost everything a person could possibly lose.  His family was completely gone, his business and all of his finances had been completely destroyed and then, finally, he lost his health as well.

And in the midst of this he desired to draw near to God.  He wasn’t rejecting God or angry with God.  Rather, he looked to see how he might draw near to God in the very midst of his pain and sorrow.

We see in Job’s life a type of prophetic authority that embodied in his life a specific message of God.  In his pain he speaks prophetically about a Saviour to come.  Many, many years later Christ would indeed be that mediator that Job so longed for. 

In Job’s struggle despite doing everything right, we are privileged to see a message and prophetic work that is stronger than words.  This message of our desperate need for a Saviour is poured through the very life of Job and was in fact proven-up in his responses in the midst.

Our own lives can also carry prophetic messages, that something of God that shows through and speaks loud and clear of God in some way.

This was the way with many of the prophets of the Old Testament.  In Hosea we find Hosea instructed by the Lord to carry out a message of God through his very life.

Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover.  This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.”  Hosea 3:1 NLT

Ezekiel also acted out a message of God.  This was his prophetic assignment:

“Now lie on your left side and place the sins of Israel on yourself.  You are to bear their sins for the number of days you lie there on your side.  I am requiring you to bear Israel’s sin for 390 days – one day for each year of their sin.  After that, turn over and lie on your right side for 40 days – one day for each year of Judah’s sin.”  Ezekiel 4:4-6 NLT

These are strange assignments.  They don’t really make sense and they go against our better judgements.  The lesson of Job’s life is the same.

Job revealed a hearts automatic response to God in the hardest of times. Even though life became inconceivably broken and devastated he responded authentically and genuinely toward God.  And in this he carried a prophetic message.  He revealed a part of God that was given to him to reveal.

This is the same of others throughout scripture.  Read about:

Daniel – Daniel chapters 1-9

Esther – the book of Esther

Noah – Genesis 6

They lived lives in the day to day, the experience of such, that would seem confusing and certainly not of God.

Our lives are often the same.  It takes faith to look to God in the difficulties and the unexpected. It takes faith to open up the camera lens on our lives so that we can see the big picture.

“And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”  Romans 5:4-6 NLT 

It takes living a life that doesn’t always make sense and a courage to find and have this kind of life that carries a unique expression of God.

Walking with the Spirit means that we are open to things beyond ourselves.  That we exhibit wisdom in the face of the unaccountable.  And that we do not ascribe to Satan what is of God.

“but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.  This is a sin with eternal consequences.”   Mark 3:29 NLT

When we walk our days in genuine affection for the Lord, when we walk in obedience to the leading of the Spirit and when we worship the Lord regardless of our days, we have a recipe for carrying out that unique prophetic message that is ours to bear.

Thing is, walking with God in an intuitive fashion is a life lived beyond our understanding and beyond what we can make happen.

The prophetic messages of our lives happen when we simply give over our life to him. 

Total and complete surrender has the Lord’s finger in the mix of our days, taking what feels so very ordinary into what is completely extraordinary.

Praise be to our Lord and King.

“Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp!”  Psalm 150:1-3 NLT

Prayer

“God we ask today for eyes that see your mix in our days.  We ask for understanding and wisdom from you.  Most of all we ask for courage to walk as you would have us walk, and for patience and understanding and a vision that sees beyond our own experiences.  We invite you Jesus into our very lives. We invite you Holy Spirit to refresh us and guide us.  Thank-You God.”

Application

We want to be quick to be obedient to the voice of the Lord.  Is there anything that the Lord has instructed you in, which you have not done? 

If so, speak this out to a trusted person, and then make a plan to take step/s of obedience to the instruction of the Lord. 

Sometimes, our hard times are because we are in direct disobedience to what God has been telling us. So, take some time to inquire of the Lord if there is anything in which you have not been obedient.  Then, become obedient.  Do the thing that God is telling you. 

Summary – prophetic lives

God directs our lives.  Psalm 23:4

God’s ways don’t always make sense to us.  Isaiah 55:8

We are called to be obedient to the voice of the Lord.  1 Corinthians 1:9 

We trust God with our lives.  Jeremiah 29:11

Chapter 12: Trusting with Little

12.  Trusting with Little

Capturing God’s Heart Volume #13 

The journey with our God is an interesting one.

We quickly learn that God’s timing is not our timing, and that God’s ways are not our ways.  In fact, there are many times when God simply says ‘No’ or ‘Not this way’.  It is at times like this that our motives and heart are tested and tried.

We tend to make Plan A with God.  We come up with our best scenario, and then we invite God into it.  But Plan A is usually not the best plan.  For the first plan we think of is usually the easiest and with the least amount of risk.

Much like Gideon in the Old Testament, we want surety and guaranteed success.

“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel?  My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”  Judges 6:15 NLT 

But much like the story of Gideon, God comes along and says, “No you can do with less. For I will be with you.”

The Lord said to him, “I will be with you.  And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”  Judges 6:16 NLT 

And in the process God tests our resolve and our faith.

Do we really believe in him? Do we really trust him? Are we able to walk his way?

Do we really get it that ‘God With Us’ is all that is needed?

The Lord said to Gideon,You have too many warriors with you.  If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.  Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.”   Judges 7:2-3 NLT

Or do we insist on our own way, demanding from God our plan and our way?

Fact is, God’s ways are better than our ways.  And Plan B is always a better plan.  For Plan B comes with much risk, and demands more from us internally.

“But the Lord told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.”  When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the Lord told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs.  In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.”  Only 300 of the men drank from their hands.  All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream.”   Judges 7:4-6 NLT

Our hearts must engage in greater measure with the real plans of God.

Our faith is exercises beyond the normal and beyond what our minds can comprehend and what makes sense to us.

“The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites.  Send all the others home.” So Gideon collected the provisions and rams’ horns of the other warriors and sent them home.  But he kept the 300 men with him.” Judges 7:7-8a NLT

God will always decrease our provision until we get it that with him we have everything, that with him we have all we need, and that with him all things are possible.

It is a tricky balance to be sure.  Too easily we begin to trust in the ‘greatness’ of numbers or of those around us, when really, all we are to get is the ability to really trust God himself, and no other.

God will come through for us, but not how we are expecting, and usually not how we would like. But like Gideon we can make a shift in our being, and allow the living God to show up on His terms and in his way.

Then, and only then, will we experience and witness the glory of God.

“That is the story of how the people of Israel defeated Midian, which never recovered. Throughout the rest of Gideon’s lifetime—about forty years—there was peace in the land.”  Judges 8:28 NLT

What are you wrestling through today?  Where are you needing a miracle of the Lord?

Perhaps while you are thinking, “We need more.” He is saying, “No, you actually need less.”

And like the Lord told Gideon right at the beginning, “Go with the strength you have.”

“Then the Lord turned to him and said,  ‘Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!’”  Judges 6:14 NLT

God shows up through our present circumstances and strength.  Our strengths and circumstances are sufficient for the task, because of who God is, not because of who we are. 

Will you trust him?

Application

There is a common belief the world over that more is better.  And in this belief we are often over-reaching beyond how the Lord is directing us.  We can test this by the plans we have made in the past – are they still in place, are they standing strong, are they established?  If not, we were probably overreaching beyond what we could build and sustain. 

We are to be faithful with the little that God entrusts to us.  It is evident that one of the strongholds of poverty is the violation of this principle.  Often we despise the simple beginnings and the small things, but in God we are called to steward the little because only when we have proven ourselves faithful with a little, will we be given more. 

1.  Take some time to think through the things that you are responsible for and that God has entrusted to you.  Are you taking care of these things? 

Are you being a good steward? 

Your focus is to be on the things God has already entrusted to you.  Doing this, becoming faithful to care for your family and things, will prove that you can be trusted with more.  Not right away of course, but over time God will give you more things to be responsible for and to steward. 

2.  Make a list of all the things that you are responsible for. 

3.  Next, give yourself a grade for faithful stewardship of each thing. 

4.  Then, make a note for each thing about how you might improve in your care of the things under your responsibility. 

5.  Do these things on your list, one by one, bit by bit. 

Summary – trusting with little

We must be faithful with the little.  Luke 16:10

We trust God and follow Him.  Proverbs 3:5

When we are weak God is strong.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

God knows the whole plan, we see only a part of it.  Romans 8:28

Chapter 11. Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

Capturing God’s Heart Volume #11 

We are all overwhelmed at one time or another.  Life has many dynamics to it, and we are often stretched beyond what we think we can do and beyond who we are.

And this is certainly true in ministry, where others are looking to us for answers and solutions and wisdom. In those times we are vulnerable to discouragement.

But I’ve discovered six principles that have helped to frame the challenges of our days and I want to share them with you.

1.  Lead with Generosity

History has shown that those who position themselves to bless others are leaders in the land. This is an opportunity that is open to any one of us at any time.

“They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor.  But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.”  

2 Corinthians 8:2 NLT

Generosity comes from the outflow of our relationship with the Lord and is based on who He is rather than our circumstances. (footnote #1)

Generosity is a hearts attitude that seeks to bless others.  It is a way of being in the world that is a blessing that honours and pours over others.

How might you lead in generosity today?

2.  Confess Fear

There are many things to be afraid of and many times we are frightened and shrinking back in fear.

Being afraid and fearful is normal.  There are so many verses in the Bible about ‘do not fear’ that we see fear to be a pretty normal problem for all of us in our humanity.

Yet just as many times we find these words, “Do not fear”, and in John we find Jesus saying this,

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  John 14:27 NLT 

The way to access the peace of Jesus Christ is to simply confess our fear, “God I am afraid.”

Rather than trying to not be afraid, “I will not be afraid, I will not be afraid, I will not…” which never works by the way (we cannot talk ourselves out of fear), open honesty about our fear secures us in the covering of God and submits our reality to him.

When we are afraid we simply confess, “God I am afraid” and the peace of Christ can takes its place in our lives. (footnote #2)

3. One Day at a Time

We can only live one day at a time, and it is important to discipline our minds and hearts to remain in that ‘one day at a time’.  In Proverbs we find good advice about staying in today and not living forward into tomorrow with pride,

“Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.” Proverbs 27:1 NLT 

And in Matthew we find the same kind of advice but this time about worry,

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today” Matthew 6:34 NLT

Both of these verses tell us to simply live in today.  The tasks for today are enough for today.  The blessings of today are enough for today.  And all we need for today we have today.

The grace for tomorrow we do not have yet, for it is not yet tomorrow.

We simply live in today – One day at a time.

4.  Do with What We Have

While it is easy to think that we need this or must have more of that thing etc, we can in fact move forward with the present reality and resources more than we believe.

While there are certainly times of preparation and waiting on the timing of God, when it comes time to move forward or to stretch into that next thing, we do so regardless of what we think might be missing.

‘Doing with what we have’ works two ways.

One, we put to rest the reasoning that we cannot do such and such until we have this or that. We simply get on with the work regardless.

And two, we experience today in all its fullness.  What we need we have, and what we have we fully utilize.  No longer do we live out in the future when such and such will come to be.

Rather we find gratefulness and fulfillment in the here and now. (footnote #3)

Doing with what we have is the secret to joy and contentment in the here and now. And we find this truth,

“And God will generously provide all you need.  Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”  2 Corinthians 9:8  NLT

5.  Be Poured Out

The needs of hearts and souls around us are many.  Oftentimes we are insufficient for them, but in the knowledge of God and of who he is, and because we have found him in our own lives, we can follow His lead and give of ourselves.

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” Ephesians 1:6  NLT 

Because of God’s pouring into us, we can pour into others.  Much like a healthy stream of water that comes from one place and goes to another, the act of being poured out ensures that there is a flowing spring of the spirit through our beings.

We take in the grace of God and we pour it out to others. (footnote #4)

6.  It’s Not Our Work

We come to see that as we minister to others that it is not our work.  We simply show up, and the Spirit works through us.

We therefore do not need allow overwhelm to stop us, or fear to hold us back.  Rather, we can boldly love and speak and minister because it is really the work of God that makes the difference.  We simply offer our lives to God’s touch. He does the rest. (footnote #5)

“There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.  God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”  

1 Corinthian 12:5-6 NLT 

  1. Lead in Generosity
  2. Confess Fear
  3. One Day at a Time
  4. Do with What we Have
  5. Be Poured Out
  6. It’s Not Our Work 

These provide a framework that gives strength to our days and direction for how we might be in the world.

The influence of our lives has little to do with us, and it has everything to do with God. 

As we live out of who God is, rather than our circumstances, we will find strength and encouragement in our days.  God bless each of you mightily, may you know him a little better today.

Application

1.  Set aside some time to come before the Lord.

2.  Invite the Holy Spirit’s revelation.

3.  For each of these six principles ask the Lord how to apply each in your own life: 

A.  Lead in Generosity,  B.  Confess Fear,  C.  One Day at a Time,  

D.  Do with What we Have,  E.  Be Poured Out,  F.  It’s Not Our Work

Prayer

“God we come before you in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We enter into your kindness and your glory.  Thank you for inviting us to participate in your kingdom here on earth.  Teach us to walk well with you. 

God I want to move only at your direction and guidance.  I want you to be my guide.  I leave behind my own best ideas and I welcome your voice to show me how to live each day, how to interact with the people I am serving, and how to honour you in all my dealings.”

Summary – overwhelmed

The joy of the Lord overflows in generosity.   2 Corinthians 8:2

God’s peace washes away our fear.   John 14:27

Live in Today and we leave tomorrow with God.  Proverbs 27:1 

We live in the sufficiency of God, today is enough.  1 Timothy 6:6

Give of your heart generously to others.  Proverbs 11:25

Remember that we are not the Christ.  John 1:19-28

 

Footnotes: 

  1. I recall the time in my life that I had only a tiny bit of food in my home. I had been through much difficulty and I was having trouble feeding my children. We moved into a new neighbourhood and the children on our street were coming over to play and get to know my children. Previously, before the trouble in my life, I would have been eager and glad to have shared our food with these children as they came to visit. But since the trouble and because we had so little food I was hesitant and even afraid to share the little we had. My heart had become pinched and narrow and I was losing my ability to be generous. Yet, I realized one day that I had a decision to make. I could share our one apple with the children because I knew God would take care of us, or I could keep the apple and not share it because I only had a little bit of food after all. I decided to be generous based on who God is and not on my circumstances. As I look back on that time I realize that it was a critical decision point in my life. Would I be generous based on my circumstances or based on the God that I served? I am certain that each of us are faced with these kinds of decisions all the time. I ask you, do you lead in generosity based on your circumstances or on who you know God to be?
  2. I learned to confess my fear this way from the Holy Spirit. One night I was asleep in my bed and a demon came and took my head in my hands and turned it so forcefully that my body turned over as well and I became unable to move. Immediately, the Holy Spirit said to me these three things, 1. Confess your fear, 2. Say Jesus, 3. Tell it to go in the name of Jesus Christ. I did these things as best I could at the time and the demon left me. Ever since, whenever I realize I am afraid, I simply speak out these words, “Jesus I am afraid.” I don’t try to pretend that I am not afraid and I don’t try to be unafraid on my own, rather, I give my fear to Jesus. In this way the fear is brought into the light and it loses it’s authority to affect us. Confessing our fear, simply saying it out loud that we are afraid, brings us into the light of God and we immediately feel the peace of God soaking into our hearts and minds. 
  3. To ground ourselves into each day it is important to stop what we are doing and to give thanks for the things immediately around us, the state of our heart in that moment, and the physical reality of our bodies. For instance, “I am thankful to be in Uganda as I write this. The day is cool and I have my sweater on — it feels good on my arms. The birds are singing and I am able to rest a moment. Thank you Lord.”
  4. When the Lord first began asking me to be poured out I was terrified. I thought he was telling me to become completely empty, and yet I found that this is not what he meant. God knows the principle that as we are generous with ourselves, as we pour out to others an expansive heart, compassion, listening, and kindness, that he is the one who fills us with these things. As we give out of our souls he pours into our souls. But his pouring in doesn’t work unless we are pouring out. We must become the river of the Lord’s living water. Once we begin to take risks to give  of our lives in a way that seems too much for us, we will find that God pours into us and all is fine. He supplies what we need as we give out as he asks of us.
  5. There is an organization in Los Angeles, California that feeds the people living on the streets. They make and distribute meals to some 600 men and women 4-5 days a week. They have been doing this for years. I spoke with the man in charge of this operation some years ago. I was realizing that with all that we do, even with our own great sacrifices and service to others, that it is never really enough. There is always more that can be done. And so I asked this man, “How do you continue on when all that you are doing is still not enough?” And he answered me this, “Do you recall where the priests and levites came to John the Baptist in prison inquiring into who he was, and John told them, ‘I am not the Christ’. Well, this is what I remember, I am not the Christ.” As we are in service within the Kingdom of God we must remember that we are not the Christ. We do what we can. We respond to the call of God upon our lives. We serve and we sacrifice as the Lord leads us. But then, we leave the rest up to God. For we are not the Christ.

 

The Gas Light is Orange

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My Daughter Danielle and I in Manitoba – Such a Good Time

Last week I was driving from the mid-west USA back into Canada. I had been with my daughter in Manitoba and then down to visit family in Minnesota and then saw a few sights on my way back westward. It was a good, blessed, restful time. I am so grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to take some weeks for a road trip and time to spend with family in numerous places.

My final day back into Canada was a long days drive. Because I have been recuperating from a deep exhaustion I had been taking my driving days slowly, only clocking four or five hours a day. My last day though was nearly an eight hour day of driving.

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A Beautiful Vista in Wyoming Where I Walked and Camped

Nearing the Canadian border I passed a gas station and wondered if I should top-up my fuel. But I thought, “Nah, I will fill up at the gas station on the other side once I am back into Canada.” I still had a good 1/4 of a tank of gas.

Once through the border and back onto home soil I headed for the campsite where I would spend the night — about 1/2 hour north of the border. I have been enjoying my tent and sleeping bag and cook-stove. I even bought at a garage sale in Minnesota a beautiful luxurious folding chair for $5; oh the sweet bliss of this.

Morning came and I began heading north into the city of Regina. I got about fifteen minutes down the highway and my gas light came on.

Now, I do not know how long I can drive with that gas light glaring at me before I run out of gas. Every turn in the road, every hillock with even a few trees or buildings I hoped and wished and prayed and begged that there would be a gas station. There was not.

For 40 minutes I careened down the highway at 120 Km/hr expecting to run out of gas at any moment. I paid close attention to the sides of the road, continuously calculating if the road edge was safe to pull off and onto if need be. I remained vigilant to the fact that should my car completely run out of gas that my power steering would not be available to me and that I would need some good effort to steer my car where it would need to be in order to be off of the highway and safe.

It is an interesting thing to know one is nearly empty and to carry on at high speed toward what might be imminent upset and inconvenience and trouble, really. 

But carry on I did. All the while talking myself out of any need for panic or dismay or worry. After all, None of these responses would change what was going to happen. I could in a panic run out of gas on the highway in the middle of the prairies or I could serenely run out of gas on the highway in the middle of the prairies.

I drove, like this, for 40 minutes, at 120 Km/hr knowing I could stall at any moment.

Long story short and with great relief, Regina appeared all of a sudden out of the distance and within moments I drove into the first gas station with much gratitude and praise to the Lord that I arrived well and fine and could fill up my car, none the worse for wear. But what an experience.

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Indian Princess on the banks of the Missouri River – So Stunning

At Capturing Courage Int’l Ministries, this is exactly how it feels at this moment. We are standing in the tension of establishing, faithfully attending to what we believe God is leading us to do without seeing very far in advance at all.

It feels that we are heading down the highway at top speed with a gas light flashing orange, not knowing if we are going to stall or find our way Okay.  

So, today, I am asking you, if you have been encouraged or inspired or helped in any way from the work of Capturing Courage, would you further participate with a financial gift to us.

Translation work of our CCIM Course is now happening in three countries with a possible fourth in the next months. And of course, we pay for translation work. The multiplied impact of our materials into other languages is incalculable actually. See already all that God is doing. And we are so excited to be part of this thing of the Lord.

So, today, I am asking if you would give a generous one-time gift or become a monthly partner with us here at Capturing Courage International Ministries. 

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Partnering Together

If you simply cannot contribute financially, please, please, please, keep us in your prayers that all monies designated for CCIM, that we then allocate out, would be fully present to us.

Thank you for your hearts and prayers and great presence with us at Capturing Courage. We give the Lord all the glory for the great and amazing things of him through us. Bless you mightily today.

Cyndy Lavoie,

Executive Director at Capturing Courage International Ministries

 

GIVE NOW BUTTON

 

 

 

Chapter 10. Difficulty

Chapter 10.  Difficulty

per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #10

Today I am sharing about Difficulty, and some of what I have come to find about the Lord through the hard things of our lives.

We all have trouble in this life. Each of us experience things that are simply difficult. In fact the Bible speaks quite a bit to difficulty. Jesus said this:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 NLT 

I used to think that God was going to fix all my difficulty and that the overcoming that Christ spoke of was to do with the stuff of this world.  That perhaps God was simply magic applied to my life and that I could pray and all of a sudden the hard stuff would go away.

I have found that this is not so.  I have learned that God does not fix our lives so much as He wants to walk alongside us in our lives.

The overcoming of the world that Christ speaks of is the process of finding God in the midst of the worst things, and in turn finding our strength from the inside out.

“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9 NLT

Will our lives get better and better with God in the mix, for sure.

Will all our troubles go away? No, they won’t.

Difficulties are the refining fire that proves our love for God, proves our walk alongside Him, and establishes us as trustworthy in His kingdom.

The pressures of life test and prove what we have inside us.

“He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.” Malachi 3:3 NLT 

Are we interested in God because he is going to help us, or are we interested in God because we love him and want to be in his company and to serve in His kingdom?

The Levites were the priests of the Lord. Chosen by Him to serve Him in the temple. 

Today we are all priests. Chosen by God, cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and it is the difficulties that purify us.

Difficulty purifies our motives.

Difficulty also strengthens us.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”  Romans 5:3-5 NLT

Like carrying a load of wood or jugs of water, we start off with our small muscles and can only carry so much.

But then we are able to carry more.  Our muscles are stronger.  Our strength is increased.

This is what difficulties do for us.  They grow our inner muscles.  Difficulties grow our character and our wisdom and our resilience.

Difficulties are not something that happens to us, but rather they are for us.

“Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.” Ecclesiastes 7:3 NLT 

God uses difficulties to prepare you and I for the assignments in His kingdom.

There is no way around difficulty.

Each of us must travel through the various difficulties that have come to us.

Certainly, many of our troubles are our own doing, but many of them are not.  And it doesn’t even matter as much as we think, for God will use the difficulties to do a work in our life.

“You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.” Psalm 71:20 NLT 

Once we have faced difficulties we are stronger.  Once we have faced the worst things and found God in the midst of it all, we are not so afraid of difficulties anymore.

The thing is, difficulties never go away.  Even when we reach success, success brings its own set of difficulty.

There will always be hard things.  And we have a choice to either fight God in the midst of our trouble or to grow and mature under the hard things.

“In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God.  We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.” 2 Corinthians 6:4 NLT 

Unfortunately some of us take our difficulties to others.  We want someone to save us and to make it better.

Or we take our frustration and anger out on those closest to us, hurting others as a result.

None of this grows the fruit that we want.  We want inner strength, not destroyed relationships. We want maturity and integrity, not child-like frustrations thrown on other people.

Each of us are responsible for our own lives and this starts in the inner place between ourselves and God, that place where we take the difficulties and we work them through with God.

We find His strength in the midst of our weakness.

“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19 NLT 

Once we stop fighting difficulty, we become better equipped to deal with them well, to grow in wisdom and knowledge, to add to our faith with understanding and a bigger perspective.

Most important we find God in new and fresh ways when in the midst of difficulty.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”  Isaiah 43:2 NLT

Will life get better and better as we walk with Him? Yes it will.

But not because life changes necessarily (although it will by and by), but more importantly because we change.  And when we change, everything changes.

Thanking God for our difficulties is the starting place.  Where we give a sacrifice of praise even in the difficulty, we are most blessed.

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”  Colossians 2:7 NLT 

God responds to this kind of faith and heart.  Our lives will not be the same.

Prayer

“Thank-you God for our troubles.  Thank-you for bringing us difficulty that refines us and purifies our hearts before you.  We are glad that you have trusted us with hard things, knowing that we are equipped and strengthened in this.  We trust you with the hardships of our lives.  We invite your hand into our troubles, but just as much we ask that you would teach us everything we need to know as we face our difficulties.  May we see the hard stuff as opportunities to come to know you more.  Thank-you Father that you walk alongside us through the middle of all our trouble. We bless your name today.  Amen”

Troubles in one shape or another will always be with us.  Today let us dedicate our lives to God regardless of our circumstances and difficulty. Regardless of the trouble we praise you Lord!

Application

As a prayer minister and as I work with my clients toward inner healing I have found it very powerful for us to take our difficulties and troubles and claim them for the glory of God. 

For instance, “God I take this accident I was involved in and I declare it for your glory and honour. 

I remove from it any authority of the enemy and I state in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ that even this circumstance can be used by God for his glory and for my future.” 

When we claim every part of our lives for the glory of God we declare in the spirit realm that God is Lord over our life, and that even though the enemy might be sending trouble our way we will not be overcome by it, but rather we will overcome it by the power of the cross. 

And in this, our hearts and minds are changed as well.  We move from blaming and accusation (even against the enemy) and we begin to hold a space that declares that God can use everything in our lives and we are glad to have him do so.  We do not need to be angry with the enemy for we are confident that God can use our current circumstances for his glory and for our future. 

When we change our hearts and minds in this way we remove from that trouble its authority or ‘say’ to upset our lives.  We firmly declare that God is in control of everything and we begin to give thanks for each thing in our lives whether they are good or bad. 

As we give God the glory for everything in our lives the grip of the enemy loosens for he simply cannot stay where God is glorified.  And in it’s place we see the powerful outworking of the Lord beginning to inhabit and move through the very things we think are the worst. 

Our faith is built.  Our trust is established.  Our perspective is broadened.  We are made more glad in all things.  Our Joy increases. 

1.  Today, make a list of all the circumstances of your life that you would consider to be trouble and great difficulty.  Write each thing down.  Leave nothing out. 

2.  Gather with another person (or the entire group) that is taking this course with you. 

3.  Then, each person, one by one, declare each thing for God’s glory. 

4.  Then, stand in agreement with each other.  Pray and declare that the trouble of the person beside you, is also for the glory of the Lord. 

5.  Use a prayer like this: 

“God I come before you today in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. God I have a lot of trouble and many difficulties but today Lord I claim each of these difficulties and trouble for your glory. 

My (speak out your first trouble) I declare for the glory and honour of my Lord and God. My (second trouble) I declare for the glory and honour of my Lord and God. My (third trouble) I declare for the glory and honour of my Lord and God. (Continue in this same way until you have read through your entire list). Every single part of my life I claim 100% for the glory of the one true God.”

Summary – difficulty 

We can have peace in Christ.  John 16:33

Difficulty purifies our motives and heart.  Romans 5:3-5

God is with us in our difficulty.  Isaiah 43:2