Joy in Our Circumstances (Reblog)

I wrote this several years ago, but it still holds true today. Sometimes God needs to knock me on the side of the head with that 2×4 to get His message across. I know Whose I am and the value He sees in me, but it has taken me a very long time to understand that. In trying to do more and more, I’ve compromised my health. Thank the Lord that He doesn’t give up on me! I am resting in Him now while He shows me that I don’t need to strive so hard to prove my worth. 

Instead of my usual Sunday Praise and Worship post, I’m sharing this again in hopes that God will use it in your lives too.

“Genuine, authentic faith must be definite and free of doubt. Not simply general in character; not a mere belief in the being, goodness, and power of God, but a faith which believes that the things which “he saith, shall come to pass.””
—Necessity of Prayer, E. M. Bounds


But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.
Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”
In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
—Job 2:10

Don’t you wonder how Job could say this after everything he went through? Doesn’t it make you shake your head and think, “yeah, right”? How could Job even think to say this after everything—and I do mean everything—was taken away from him?

Job had it all: a loving family, great wealth, a thriving business and good health. He was loved and respected by his family and the community because he was a very general and loving man. He indeed had it all … until suddenly it is all taken away and he is left helpless and hopeless.

Oh, did I say hopeless? Hardly.

“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” —C. S. Lewis

I know it’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me but rest assured that God has been very much at work in my life. I have been heard to say that I’d like to wipe the year 2010 from my calendar, but as I have reflected on this, I have to say now that’s not really true.

Like many of you, I live with daily chronic pain. Among the several illnesses I endure, my most persistent “thorn in the flesh” is daily migraines. Last year I tried yet another medication I hoped would help but the greatest side effect was to increase the intensity and duration of my migraines plus cause me to sleep for a good portion of the day as well as at night. It wasn’t unusual for me to get 12 hours of sleep during the night and then sleep again for 2-3 hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. I found myself unable to do the simplest tasks and the year went by in a blur of pain.

Without going into too much detail, it turned out that the new medication had caused a host of reactions, the least of which was the increased migraine activity. Once I was completely weaned off this medication, I started feeling almost human again. Living in a haze of pain medications is no picnic!

So many times last year I felt as if I was sliding through what I called wasted days–when all I was capable of doing was sleeping, eating and some light household chores. I spent lots of time talking to God, wondering why this was happening to me and if it would ever end. I thought my days were wasted because I wasn’t doing anything that I deemed valuable, but in reality God was doing a work in me that I finally understand.

Before this time of pain and frustration, I understood how to be joyful in spite of my circumstances. However, I can now see that God has shown me how to be thankful because of those same circumstances. In effect, God increased my faith by allowing me to travel through that tough time in order to bring me to the realization that not all bad things are… bad!

God allows circumstances and situations in our lives that are sometimes very difficult to navigate, and all He wants us to do is trust that He knows what is best for us. It is all about having faith in spite of not seeing or knowing the “why” of it. When we cannot understand the meaning behind our suffering, we immediately want to tell God how angry and frustrated we are. I know, because I’ve been there.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
—Hebrews 11:1

Faith essentially does not make sense to our human way of thinking. I guess that’s why it’s called faith—”a belief that is not based on proof,” according to the dictionary definition.

When we pray in faith, we are saying in effect that we believe God knows what is best for us—in spite of what our circumstances appear to be. We are ultimately acknowledging what we know to be true: God knows all and we do not!

In spite of that, we want to breeze through life without experiencing any kind of pain or disappointment. We think that “if only” this or that wasn’t happening in our lives, everything would be so much easier or better. If only we had more money or more time or better health or a larger home or a different job… and the list goes on. What if the circumstances in our lives—good or bad—are there to make us stronger? What if—bear with me here—we try to change our outlook so that the “bad stuff” doesn’t seem so bad after all?

“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”
—George Seaton

Beloved, if life on earth was one big picnic would we ever yearn for heaven? Would we truly be able to appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross?

Oh, and our friend Job? In spite of all the horrible things that happened to him, “Job did not sin with his lips.” Obviously Job was not happy that he had lost so much and did not like what God was allowing in his life, but he trusted God even as he was going through that terrible time. Oh, that we could all be as Job and exhibit such trust in our Creator!

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m thinking that life here on earth is meant to grow our faith, to show us how to life joyfully and victoriously because of our circumstances, not merely in spite of them. “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 104:33).

My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
—Psalm 57:7


Mustard Seed Faith (Reblog)


As long as we have unsolved problems,
unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith,
we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life. 

—John Ortberg

Mustard seed faith is sometimes a difficult concept but one that is very important to understand. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds found in the Middle East, but that smallest of seeds grows into one of the largest of plants. Jesus therefore used this illustration several times to show us that even the tiniest grain of true faith can do very great things.

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.
So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him;
and the child was cured from that very hour.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said,
“Why could we not cast it out?”

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
—Matthew 17:14-21

We see here the central need of faith, without which nothing can happen. When Jesus spoke about removing mountains he was using a phrase which the Jews knew well. A great teacher, who could really expound and interpret scripture and who could explain and resolve difficulties, was regularly known as an uprooter, or even a pulverizer, of mountains. To tear up, to uproot, to pulverize mountains were all regular phrases for removing difficulties. Jesus never meant this to be taken physically and literally. After all, the ordinary man seldom finds any necessity to remove a physical mountain. What he meant was: “If you have faith enough, all difficulties can be solved, and even the hardest task can be accomplished.” Faith in God is the instrument which enables men to remove the hills of difficulty which block their path.
—William Barclay 1

Beloved, having and holding onto true faith is difficult in hard circumstances, but it is possible. In our own physical strength we cannot move mountains. We can’t make something from nothing. We cannot by ourselves change someone’s heart and mind about something. These are under God’s care and control.

What it does mean is that if we rely on the fact that God knows what is best for us, we can rest on the assurance that His ways and means are perfect. And if we believe—have true faith—in that fact, we will be able to pray with a faith that will steadily grow.

Just like that tiny mustard seed.

We will then understand that what we may regard as unanswered prayers are actually part of God’s grand design to mold us into becoming who He wants us to be—completely and absolutely trusting that His ways are best.

1 Barclay, William. “Commentary on Matthew 17:1“. “William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible”. . 1956-1959.


How to strengthen your faith

There is a great question and answer section on Billy Graham’s site titled “Answers.” Today’s post is from there and is an excellent reminder for all of us. While you’re there, please check out the wealth of resources at Billy Graham’s wonderful site.

Q: I admit my faith is weak, but I know it would be strong if I could only see Jesus with my own eyes, even for just one minute. Why shouldn’t I ask God to do this for me?

A: God has already given you everything you need to make your faith stronger. Instead of praying for Jesus to appear to you somehow (which He never promised to do), you should be praying instead for the discipline to use the means He has given you to strengthen your faith. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

I often think of the similarity between physical strength and spiritual strength. What do we need to stay physically strong and healthy? We need two things: food and exercise. If we don’t eat, we’ll grow weaker, waste away and eventually die. And if we don’t exercise, we’ll also grow weak and won’t be useful or helpful to others.

Read the rest here.


Living in Deep Darkness


I will give you the treasures of darkness. —Isaiah 45:3

In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are special rooms devoted to the spinning of the world’s finest lace, all with the most delicate patterns. The rooms are kept completely dark, except for the light that falls on the developing pattern, from one very small window. Only one person sits in each small room, where the narrow rays of light fall upon the threads he is weaving, for lace is always more beautifully and delicately woven when the weaver himself is in the dark, with only his work in the light.

Sometimes the darkness in our lives is worse, because we cannot even see the web we are weaving or understand what we are doing. Therefore we are unable to see any beauty of any possible good arising from our experience. Yet if we are faithful to forge ahead and “if we do not give up” (Galations 6:9), someday we will know that the most exquisite work of our lives was done during those days when it was the darkest.

If you seem to be living in deep darkness because God is working in strange and mysterious ways, do not be afraid. Simply go forward in faith and in love, never doubting Him. He is watching and will bring goodness and beauty from all of your pain and tears. –J. R. Miller (from Streams in the Desert Devotional)


Against All Hope, Abraham Believed

This is another really great devotional from Streams in the Desert. I am so thoroughly enjoying reading  this book again that I’ll be sharing these often.

Rom4-18-19-Against all hope-FAITH--AMP

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed
and so became the father of many nations,
just as it had been said to him,
“So shall your offspring be.” 

Without weakening in his faith,
he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead
—since he was about a hundred years old—
and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.
—Romans 4:18-19

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed. . . . Without weakening in his faith. (Romans 4:18–19)

I will never forget the statement which that great man of faith George Mueller once made to a gentleman who had asked him the best way to have strong faith:

“The only way to know strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm through severe testings.”

How true this is! You must trust when all else fails.

Dear soul, you may scarcely realize the value of your present situation. If you are enduring great afflictions right now, you are at the source of the strongest faith. God will teach you during these dark hours to have the most powerful bond to His throne you could ever know, if you will only submit.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Mark 5:36). But if you ever are afraid, simply look up and say, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you” (Ps. 56:3). Then you will be able to thank God for His school of sorrow that became for you the school of faith.

—A. B. Simpson

Great faith must first endure great trials.

God’s greatest gifts come through great pain. Can we find anything of value in the spiritual or the natural realm that has come about without tremendous toil and tears? Has there ever been any great reform, any discovery benefiting humankind, or any soul- awakening revival, without the diligence and the shedding of blood of those whose sufferings were actually the pangs of its birth? For the temple of God to be built, David had to bear intense afflictions. And for the gospel of grace to be extricated from Jewish tradition, Paul’s life had to be one long agony.

Take heart, O weary, burdened one, bowed down
Beneath your cross;

Remember that your greatest gain may come
Through greatest loss.

Your life is nobler for a sacrifice,
And more divine.

Acres of blooms are crushed to make a drop
Of perfume fine.

Because of storms that lash the ocean waves,
The waters there

Keep purer than if the heavens o’erhead
Were always fair.

The brightest banner of the skies floats not
At noonday warm;

The rainbow follows after thunderclouds,
And after storm.




 If we really believed that God meant what He said – what should we be like! Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?  —Oswald Chambers

There is a strong connection between the words believe and faith. They both come from the same root word in the Hebrew.

Faith (pistis) is a noun, something you have:

  • a firm persuasion
  • assurance
  • certain conviction
  • Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. —Hebrews 11:1

Believe (pistueo) is a verb, something you do, based upon that faith:

  • to trust in and fully rely upon
  • to accept as genuine and true
  • to be firmly convinced about
  • For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. —2 Timothy 1:12

True faith in God should lead to our believing in what He has done for us.

Some people will think: If I really could believe!  

but the point truly is: if I really will believe.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
but whoever does not believe stands condemned already
because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world,
but people loved darkness instead of light
because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light,
and will not come into the light
for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done
has been done in the sight of God.
—John 3:16-21

Jesus places much emphasis on the sin of unbelief:

 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue,
so that they were astonished, and said,
“Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?
 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary,
and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
“And His sisters, are they not all with us?
Where then did this man get all these things?”
And they took offense at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor
except in his hometown and in his own household.”
And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
—Matthew 13:54-58

“This is a tremendous revelation. Note what it was that limited the power of God when He was here. It was unbelief! “He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. He did very few miracles there. My friend, the great problem with you and me is that we do not have faith to believe—and I’m talking about faith for the salvation of men and women. We need the kind of faith that believes Christ can save the lost. He is limited today in your own community, in your church, in your family, and in your own life by unbelief. And this is certainly true of me also. Our Lord states a great truth here. Let’s not bypass it.” (1)

Beloved, read that last verse again:

And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
—Matthew 13:58 

It should not surprise any of us that Jesus places so much importance on the sin of unbelief.

If you have any questions on how to be saved—in other words, in how to completely trust in Jesus—please read my A…B…C… page. And you are always welcome to email me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com. 


(1) Copyright © 1983. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee