When Faith Seems to Fail

Hezekiah was one of those good kings. He was a king of Judah described in the Bible as one who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” In fact it’s also said of him:

He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went.  2 Kings 18:5-7

Living by faith and obedience to the Word of God had blessed Hezekiah just like the law had promised. But then something happened. Hezekiah watched Israel get taken captive by Assyria. Hezekiah watched as Judah’s own fortified cities were overthrown by Assyria. Only Jerusalem was left.

It says that Hezekiah had “rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.” Hezekiah had known a victory over Assyria. But that past victory wasn’t enough when the king of Assyria returned.

He didn’t remember the previous faith victory. He didn’t trust. After all, it seems faithful and upright living wasn’t working for him anymore. His cities had been overthrown. It was already too late. Faith hadn’t worked. He digs down into his own resources and relies on himself for salvation from the Assyrians. He pays off the King of Assyria. He uses the temple gold. Assyria is pleased, and as I always point out to my children, “Bad guys are bad; you can’t trust them.” The King of Assyria returns, encouraged by how Hezekiah backed down earlier. This time, however, Hezekiah has no resources of his own left. He had no way of saving himself, or even trying to. There was nothing or no one else he could turn to. So he turns to God. And God saves him and the city. They didn’t even have to fight. God did the whole thing on His own.

It turns out that faith does work. Faith did work. There are times when the tribulation increases, when it seems like things have already gone the wrong way and that faith hadn’t stopped them or turned things around. But it’s here God gets to see your heart. Will you rely on yourself or will you trust Him? And if we aren’t ready to trust Him, then these tribulations can keep knocking us lower until we have no where else to turn but to God.

Why does God knock us down until we turn to Him? Because we are saved by faith and salvation is what He wants for you. It’s all out of His abundant love and grace that He allows us to endure trials to purify our hearts and perfect our faith. So the next time it seems like faith didn’t work, hunker down, cry out to God and don’t allow your situation to confuse the truth. God is faithful and cannot fail you. Faith saves.

Dawn Comes in the Morning

“…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:6

Last night was terrible: bad dreams, dark images, pain.

Lying awake in the middle of the night, I was reminded that morning would come. I asked the Lord why it couldn’t always be morning. Why did the dark night have to pass first?

What was the purpose of the dark night? The obvious answer: Rest. My first reaction was that going through these attacks was not restful. I was loosing plenty of sleep over it. But then I realized that the night was when we rested.

It is during our trials that we have to consciously lay our lives down and trust Him with everything. It’s when we come to the point of saying, “I can’t save myself. I can’t manage this on my own. I can’t fix this.” It’s when we release. It’s when in faith, we lie down and sleep peacefully.

I can be thankful for the times life causes me to cry out, “Save us, Jesus.” It’s too easy to not consciously lay down my life each day, each moment, when things are going well. It’s too easy to act like I have my life under control when control is really just a mirage.

I will trust Him tonight when the dark night falls. I will trust and I will have rest.

The Day Before

Gideon said to Him, “O my lord,if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”   Judges 6:13-14

This is just an encouragement that this is what it feels like the day before the victory, the day before God moves. Gideon is wondering where God is, what He’s been doing, why all these bad things are happening, where are the miracles? But it only takes a moment for the Lord to speak the word and change everything.

He hasn’t changed while you’ve been waiting on Him, waiting on miracles. His power hasn’t changed, His love for you hasn’t changed. But your life will change once He speaks that word. Don’t tire of waiting in His presence for the “Go.”

Leading and Following

Psalm 23

You would think I’d be totally familiar with this chapter of the Bible. Reading it today I was struck by something though. It’s a picture of the Lord leading us–beside the still waters, on the paths of righteousness. The next verse is about walking through the “valley of the shadow of death.” It says that he’s not afraid because the Lord is there with him. Of course He is, He led him there.

The paths of righteousness lead through the valley of the shadow of death. It’s where we learn about His rod and His staff, His discipline and His guidance. And it is as we follow Him through, willingly submitting to His rod and His staff, that His goodness and lovingkindness follow us.

I Can Do All Things

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

In context this verse is talking about money, namely the ability to live with or without. With the souring economy and the threat of natural and man-made disaster more and more real, it’s important to realize what Paul is saying. He says that he has found the secret to getting along and being content no matter his financial situation. He says he knows the secret to living with an abundance and he knows the secret to being in need and going hungry. Here it is: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. That’s his secret. Notice he says he’s gone hungry. You may go hungry, but Christ can fill you and strengthen you to handle it until your next meal comes.

Just a little further is another verse often quoted without its context.

“And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:20

Here Paul has just finished talking about how the Philippians had sent him several gifts to meet his needs. He says you have met my needs and my God will meet your needs. This is how it works in God’s economy. In verse 17 Paul says how their giving increases their “account.” When you give in Christ, you end up with more, not less. You may go through a time of need, but God will come through, and He will give you the strength you need as you wait expectantly.

With Perseverance

“But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” Luke 8:15

Everyone who had seen Jesus knew there was something different about him. Even those in his hometown wondered at the words coming out of his mouth. Everyone recognized something was there. Some were drawn to it. Some were threatened by it. Some tested it. Jesus didn’t really let people sit in the “not sure” camp. He pretty much forced people into the love me or hate me category. The Pharisees accused him of having gotten his power from the devil. Others believed He was from God but didn’t realize He was God in the flesh.

The parable of the sower describes four types of people. It describes four types of people and we see them all in the Scriptures. There were those whose hearts are hard and even though they have seen and heard they won’t believe. There were those who believed Jesus had power from God and went to see or experience a miracle but they weren’t ready to follow Him. There were those who decided they did want to follow Jesus, but they couldn’t make the full commitment to leave their lives and follow. Then there were those, like the first disciples, who left it all to follow Jesus. They made the daily commitment to pick up their cross and lose their own life to follow Jesus and gain true Life.

The Scriptures say it is only these, who hold fast to Jesus and persevere in following His commands, who will bear fruit.

Are You Ready to Walk Away?

Peter and Andrew and James and Johns were two sets of brothers who worked as partners in a fishing business. They fished at night because that’s when fishing is best. They weren’t fishing for pleasure. This was their job. This was how they fed and provided for their families. And that’s why they didn’t give up all night when they hadn’t caught any fish. When dawn came, they kept on fishing. Their families needed to eat. How else could they take care of their families if they didn’t catch fish? When the sun was up, they kept on fishing. They finally packed it in as the shores filled with people. They were washing their nets and listening to Jesus teach the crowds on the shore.

When he’s finished teaching, Jesus tells Peter to go out into the deep water and let down their nets. They obey, but they think it’s futile. They pull so many fish into the boat it’s almost sinking. James and John need to help them out. It’s the biggest payload they’ve ever had. But Peter recognizes the presence of God and fears being in Jesus’ presence because he is a “sinful man.” On shore they leave the fish in the boats, worth maybe more money than they had ever seen at one time, and they walk away, away from trying to provide for themselves. In a instant of realizing who Jesus was they were prepared to leave it behind and trust.

They don’t always understand that provision, but they get to experience God’s supernatural provision again and again. Are you ready to walk away from your means of providing for yourself if it means obeying and following Jesus?

The King Will Make a Way

The King Will Make a Way a story for the last days saint has been published! Get your copy here!

From the back cover:

This end-times story of faith and perseverance is an allegorical tale set in a village long ago. Gabe is the only one who knows the true King is still alive, but Vulpine is determined to become king himself and will stop at nothing to force the villagers to give him their loyalty.

Through storms, plague and persecution, the servants of the true King learn that there is one thing they can always be sure of — The King Will Make a Way.

“This is really magnificent. ‘Vivid’ is the word that comes to mind. Your language is rich…and the story itself is immensely compelling.”  Leslie Komarnicki

“You are in good hands when you read The King Will Make a Way. The author has crafted a carefully paced, well developed plot that will leave you challenged and inspired. The story is pure delight, not sentimental, but truly satisfying.” Ned Erickson, author, Falling into Love

*****

Also available on Kindle.

(Leave a review on Amazon.com after you’ve read the book!)

(Updated 2020) I do have old homeschool materials I made for the book if you are interested. It is also used in 7th level of EP All-in-One Homeschool where the students read it and write their own novel. Those lessons can be found here.

One Personal Account of God’s Provision

There was a time our family was without money.  We saw the money dwindling, dwindling, kept waiting for money to come from somewhere, but nothing came.

I hesitate to explain that we lived overseas at the time for fear you think our story doesn’t apply to yourself. We served the Lord among the Roma and had for years. But a year earlier we had left our missions agency, told our churches and supporters to send their money to orphans instead of to us, gave away the balance of our bank account to the same and jumped out of the boat and onto the water. We had decided to live by faith.

My husband had no work at the time, but he planned to tutor some students in English. We were about to move into the ghetto and were going to be living at the same economic level as our neighbors. We lived in a small two-room basement apartment in a crowded part of town. At first a handful of people contacted us and asked if they could support us still, saying they felt the Lord leading them to give to us. We accepted. The money was sent right to our bank account. Only one person gave a little each month. The rest was “random” to any outside observer. My husband also got a few students. That income fluctuated each month and never paid more than half of a month’s needs.

More than a year later we were getting close to the end of our money, I went to buy bread for breakfast and was planning on buying less than usual. On the way my daughter found a couple of coins so that we were able to buy the normal amount and then the store owner threw in some extra, just because. We had a feast.

But the money kept going away. I made homemade bread for breakfast because we didn’t have the money for bread from the store. I already had in the house everything needed. Everyone wished I did that more often. Who doesn’t love fresh, homemade bread?

We finally had left just enough for one more container of milk. We have four children [at the time] so milk is quickly consumed in our home. It would be needed in the morning. With that purchase the money would be gone, completely.

Students had been cancelling lessons, no one from church slipped us money as they sometimes did, and no one sent a gift to our bank account. We would know when someone did send a gift to our account because we’d get a notification of it as “pending.”  After that we’d wait three or four days for it to make it into “available balance.” There was nothing even pending.

We told no one of our need. We didn’t make any prayer requests for our finances, support or needs. We didn’t take out a cash advance on our credit card. We waited on the Lord to see His salvation.

We expected the Lord to provide. He had to provide. He meets the needs of His children. We had given and His Word says He’ll give back. He was a good Father who took care of His children. We knew we were following His will and obeying His Word as best we knew how. We knew this time He had to provide by miracle. It was too late for any of the “normal” ways to get money. Rent and other bills were due the next day.

Before bed my husband checked the bank account online one more time as he had done frequently those last days. And there it was. Our miracle. One thousand dollars in “available balance.” It was a “direct deposit” according to the bank. It wasn’t through Paypal or by check like every other gift we received. We did check with the few people in the world who had our bank info and could have deposited something, but no one knew anything about it. It was a gift from God, and it was enough to cover rent, bills, and food for the next month.

There are many other times the Lord provided through people. People we have never met have sent us money. People at church have slipped us cash. A few faithful continue to support us even though they get no tax receipt for it.

God has sent Roma (Gypsies) to our door with food, clothing, shoes, blankets, rugs. We have never lacked a thing. God provides for His children. Now you might say, “A worker is worthy of his wages,” so we were due provision where “normal” people aren’t. But if you are following Jesus and obeying His word and have a need, then your Father is going to take care of you. He will provide.

And may I also add, we don’t live in a continual state of broke. This was a test we had to go through, and knew we would go through, when we told the Lord we were going to trust Him all the way with our finances. The money is always there. We always have all we need, and the Lord doesn’t repeatedly make us wait until the last second to provide. He’s a good Father.

God Provides, cont.

I started another post with Scriptures on God’s provision, but let’s first continue with examples of God’s provision for God’s people. We’ll skip the long list of amazing provisions the prophets received of food and lodging, safety, the waters parting, and supernatural strength and go to the New Testament this time. By the way, I’m not doing this trying to pick examples to make a certain point; I’m just making observations.

Joseph

NEED: guidance — first to marry Mary, then to escape Herod

PROVISION: dreams  (Matthew 1:20, 2:13)

REQUIREMENT: We know that he was chosen by God and a righteous man.

***

The people of Israel with every kind of sickness and disease and pain, as well as demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics and the blind, deaf and mute, and also a couple of dead people

NEED: healing, deliverance, resurrection

PROVISION: healing, deliverance, resurrection  (Matthew 4:24, Luke 7:14-15 and many other places)

REQUIREMENT: having a need (we are often told Jesus was moved by compassion), seeking help from Jesus (but not all came and asked for help), and being an Israelite, meaning God’s chosen

***

Centurion and the Mother of the Demon Possessed Girl

NEED: healing, deliverance

PROVISION: healing, deliverance (Luke 7:9-10, Matthew 15:28)

REQUIREMENT: faith — They both had great faith. They were both Gentiles.

***

Those Following Jesus Listening to His Teaching

NEED: food (seems they had been three days without food)

PROVISION: bread and fish (Matthew 15:37)

REQUIREMENT: Having a need, Jesus was moved by compassion

***

Peter

NEED: to pay his taxes

PROVISION: money  (Matthew 17:27)

REQUIREMENT: the faith to obey Jesus’ command to cast a fishing hook into the sea and to look in the mouth of the first fish he pulled up

***

New Believers (Acts 2 and also in 4)

NEED: need (“as anyone might have need”)

PROVISION: needs were met by other believers who were supernaturally moved to sell their possessions to meet the needs of others (Acts 2:45)

REQUIREMENT: having a need and being a part of the close community of believers

***

The World

NEED: Savior

PROVISION: Jesus

REQUIREMENT: He met the need while we were sinners and didn’t deserve saving, but we receive salvation by faith.