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Monday, August 27, 2018

We Get In The Worst Predicaments Because We Forget God Knows Best! We Neglect To Check With God For Many Reasons. We're In Too Big Of A Hurry, That’s Why Counsel Before Decisions Is So Important

We Get In The Worst Predicaments Because We Forget God Knows Best! 
We Neglect To Check With God For Many Reasons. We're In Too Big Of A Hurry, We're Feeling Pressured By Other People, We Compromise For The Sake Of Convenience, Or We Just Plain Know How We Want It To Be And We Stubbornly Blaze Ahead With Our Own Will. Sometimes, We May Even Be Doing God's Thing, But It's Not God's Time Or It's Not God's Way. Which Is Why It’s So Vital That We "Lean Not On Our Own Understanding." 

And why would anyone want to waste time on such Foolishness when you have direct access to the Wisdom of God? That’s Who you seek…FIRST! When you’re wondering which direction and what to do, seek God FIRST! Jeremiah 33:3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: “Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” (MSG) With that as your best option, how could you choose anything different? You do not have to figure out life on your own (and thank God, because clearly WE are not good at decision making on our own)! And who cares, since we can simply call to our Father and He will answer His children with marvelous things that we don’t have to keep digging to find on our own!

Joshua 9:14-15, “So the men [of Israel] took some of their own provisions [and offered them in friendship], and [FOOLISHLY] did not ask for the counsel of the Lord. Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant (treaty) with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation [of Israel] swore an oath to them.” (AMP)

Consider the example in Joshua 9:14-15. The Jews have been winning one victory after another over the Canaanites as they took possession of the Promised Land that God was giving them. Now, they are about to come upon Gibeon, one of the royal cities of Canaan. The Gibeonites have heard about the fall of the other cities the Jews have gone against. They know they're going down next unless they can trick God's people somehow into making a peace treaty with them, which seems unlikely in light of the fact that God's Orders are to remove every tribe from the land and Not to coexist with them!

But the Gibeonites are shrewd. They sent a delegation to see Joshua, with donkeys loaded with cracked wineskins and worn-out sacks. They wore patched sandals and old clothes, and they carried dry and moldy bread with them. The whole scam was to make it LOOK LIKE they were from far away and that they had come on a long journey. Here's how Joshua and his men decided what to do with these Gibeonites, "The Israelites sampled their provisions (so they made sure the bread was really dry and moldy) BUT THEY DID NOT INQUIRE OF THE LORD. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath." (NIV) 

Do you know, within days, the Jews learned that the Gibeonites weren't from far away; in fact, they were from close by. But because they had been tricked into this treaty, they could not, by honor, remove them as God had originally commanded. As a result, the hands of the Jews were tied for years to come, and the treaty actually sparked a major battle with other armies. How did this mess happen? They decided on the basis of what SEEMED right to them, but they made the fatal mistake so many of us have made so many times before –THEY DIDN’T CHECK WITH HEAVEN...THEY DIDN'T CHECK WITH GOD! And so they blew it! And so do we!

Listen to the text in varying translation:
 “So the Israelites EXAMINED their food, BUT THEY DID NOT CONSULT THE LORD.” (NLT);

Now, this is where many of us mess up and get messy! Like the Israelites, we’ll try it; take some; taste it; sample it; exam it, believe it, and even eventually accept it…but what we fail to do is to ask God what to do about it and with it! The Israelites (like many of us) were cautious, they checked out what was presented to them, however, the final decision was not theirs to make (and not ours either)!

“The Israelites took some of their supplies, BUT THEY DIDN’T ASK FOR ANY DECISION FROM THE LORD.” (CEB)

And can we be honest? We Get in the Worst Predicaments Because We Forget God Knows Best!

The decision was the Lord’s to make! They were to consult Him. And even with the decisions He allows us to be a part of, we are still to consult the Lord! And it’s not because they didn’t know any better, so they don’t even have that as a justifiable excuse and neither do we!

James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom [TO GUIDE HIM THROUGH A DECISION OR CIRCUMSTANCE], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.” (AMP) When God Himself is telling you to use His Wisdom, only a Fool would refuse! 

God Is There To Help, Not To Hinder Us! But He’s not rudely forcing Himself on us either! But He’s laid out for us the safest way to travel if only we’d adhere to it! Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart AND DO NOT RELY ON YOUR OWN INSIGHT OR UNDERSTANDING. IN ALL YOUR WAYS know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and HE will make your paths straight and smooth [REMOVING OBSTACLES THAT BLOCK YOUR WAY].” (AMP) Do you realize just how smooth this journey of ours could be if only we’d humble ourselves enough to follow His lead? We wouldn’t even have to worry about the bumps in the road along the way because He promises to “…remove obstacles that block our way.” But no, we insist on doing things our own way! And what is the result of that decision?

Proverbs 16:25, “There’s a way that looks harmless enough; look again – it leads straight to hell.” (MSG) Surely that’s the destination you were hoping to reach, right?

Don’t you see, we’re much like the Israelites, as soon as something (or someone) APPEARS to be alright; APPEARS to check out; APPEARS to be on the up-and-up, we jump head long into a mess with eyes wide open! All we know is that it “…LOOKS HARMLESS ENOUGH…” but so does she (until you get married to her and her $100,000.00 debt); so does he (until his perfect tall and handsome exposes you to an STD); so does that church (but little do you know they’re only concerned with the prosperity of your pockets and not the prosperity of your soul); so does that business (until you find out the under-handed methods they use to keep it afloat)! 

What am I saying? Ask God Before You Decide It or Are They Really the Answers You Were Looking For! This could literally save your very life!

Think of all the divorces that could have been avoided had the individuals sought the Lord FIRST! When our children messed up, imagine how quickly they could have clean up, if we FIRST helped them God’s way instead of ours! The many soul ties that would never have tangled up your peace of mind if only you’d sought the Lord’s decision in the matter, FIRST! How many broken hearts that would not have needed years to mend, if only we sought the Lord FIRST. Many of us would not have to start over (for the 97th time, just this week) if only we’d sought the Lord FIRST! So much unnecessary pain, so many unnecessary complications and difficulties and conflicts, and all because of our failure to seek God's direction FIRST!  And in this day and time of read your horoscope; find your inner-self; reach for a higher power; let them read your palm; check out the tarot cards; let the soothsayers soothe you; (You Need to Know to Seek God FIRST!)

Isaiah 8:19-22, “When people tell you, “Try out the fortunetellers. Consult the spiritualists. Why not tap into the spirit-world, get in touch with the dead?” Tell them, “NO, WE’RE GOING TO STUDY THE SCRIPTURES.” People who try the other ways get nowhere – a dead end! Frustrated and famished, they try one thing after another. When nothing works out they get angry, cursing first this god and then that one, looking this way and that, up, down, and sideways – and seeing nothing, a blank wall, an empty hole. They end up in the dark with nothing.” (MSG)

However, truth is, we neglect to check with God for many reasons. We're in too big of a hurry, we're feeling pressured by other people, we compromise for the sake of convenience, or we just plain know how we want it to be and we stubbornly blaze ahead with our own will. Sometimes, we may even be doing God's thing, but it's not God's time or it's not God's way. Which is why it’s so vital that we "lean not on our own understanding," which can only see part of the picture. When you consult with the Lord, you're getting direction from the only One who can see the whole picture. That’s why counsel before decisions is so important! Proverbs 15:22, “Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed.” (MSG)

Do I dare ask how much money you would not have lost if you sought God FIRST? How much of your integrity, dignity and character would still be intact if you sought the Lord FIRST? How many mistakes and missteps could you have avoided if only you asked if this or they were in His Will for your life? Maybe you wouldn’t have lost the job, the house, the car, the career, the ministry or church, if only you would have asked God for His Guidance, before deciding to Go Your Own Way…Only to Have Crashed Over the Cliff Where He Already Had Warning Signs in Place!

And LEADERS, this is dangerous for us as well, listen to the text again in closing:“JOSHUA AND THE OTHER LEADERS finally believed them. They did not bother to ask the Lord but went ahead and signed a peace treaty…” (TLB);

Leadership Means We’re Responsible For Everyone On Board, Whether We Sail Safely, or Sink Fatally. Which is why we (above all people) ought to use the Wisdom God has made available to us to lead people according to His Word, Way and Will…and NOT That of Our Own! Because in the end, these LEADERS made a decision (WITHOUT GOD) that affected the WHOLE CONGREGATION. And if we dare make the wrong decision, the Body of Christ, as a whole, is damaged. Because you can’t hurt your pinky and the rest of your hand not know what happened. And in the Body of Christ, whatever we do in the Body, affects the whole body. So let’s start today by asking the Lord to lead and guide us in the way we should go, not in the way we want to go. Let’s ask the Lord for His decision, His Word, His Will, His Way, and His Timing.

Why? Because we can avoid a lot of problems and a lot of pain if only we'll instinctively check with God FIRST. Let’s decide today to stop making messy decisions! 

We have much indeed to be grateful for. However, this is also the time and season when everyone wants to be something new, try something new, go somewhere new. And nothing is wrong with New, when it’s the Lord’s doing: Isaiah 43:18-21, “This is what God says…Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’M ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING BRAND-NEW. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” (MSG) If something is to be New, let Him do it instead of you attempting to experiment with it! Let God change it; alter it; move it; or send it…not you trying to make things (you want, but may not need) to happen!

SEEK GOD FIRST! Wait On the Lords’ Timing and Direction and You’ll Never Be Steered Off Course.

J.P. Olson

Monday, August 13, 2018

Listen: Keeping Score Only Works In Competitive Sports; However It’s Disastrous In Friendships And Relationships. But Until You Make The Decision To Forgive, The Process Can’t Even Begin.

Colossians 3:12-14, “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (MSG)

Jimmy’s temper got out of control at a party and he ended up becoming loud and embarrassing to his wife Lisa. The next morning he felt bad and asked her to forgive him. She said she would, yet she kept bringing it up. One day in discouragement he said, “I thought you were going to forgive and forget.” She said, “I have, I just don’t want you to forget that I have forgiven and forgotten.

Now, before you judge her too harshly and hastily, ask yourself an honest question requiring an honest answer: Do I “forgive and forget” just like that? A forgiveness that’s merely lip service because your heart doesn’t genuinely and sincerely mean it? Well, I’m here to tell you that this is NOT biblical forgiveness for believers. And for samples of what biblical forgiveness looks like, all we need to do is look at God: “And Jesus prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And they divided His garments and distributed them by casting lots for them” (Luke 23:34 AMP); “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]” (1 John 1:9 AMP); “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12 AMP); “Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities; Who heals [each one of] all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3 AMP).

I find it amazing that God can forgive us like that, and yet, we that call ourselves “Christians” and “Christ-Like” act nothing like His Character. 

Knowing in advance, before time, all of the sins and mess we would commit and get ourselves into, and yet He still forgave and continuously forgives all of us, moment, by repentant moment! And what does He ask that we do in return? Simple. Follow His Example! Why? Because there is a biblical danger found in unforgiveness: “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:15 AMP); “Judge not [neither pronouncing judgment nor subjecting to censure], and you will not be judged; do not condemn and pronounce guilty, and you will not be condemned and pronounced guilty; acquit and forgive and release (give up resentment, let it drop), and you will be acquitted and forgiven and released.” (Luke 6:37 AMP).

In case you’re not getting it, you are not forgiven, UNTIL you first forgive! And let’s be honest here, are you really so perfect, blameless, sinless and spotless, with absolutely no blemishes, that you can afford to be without God’s forgiveness? I think not. And I love the way Luke puts it, "Do Not Judge, Do Not Condemn, Do Not Pronounce Guilt…INSTEAD…Acquit, Forgive, Release, Give Up, and Let It Go!" Like it or not, but if you are truly in fact a Believer, then the whole Bible is to be followed by YOU! And full, complete and total forgiveness of others is indeed a part of the Package Plan!

Listen: Keeping Score Only Works In Competitive Sports; However It’s Disastrous In Friendships And Relationships. Truth is, there’s so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us, that we’ll spend much of our lives learning to forgive and forget. And let’s be honest, forgetting is harder when the offense is great. Small offenses can often times be forgiven and even forgotten rather quickly; bigger ones require a healing process. But Until You Make The Decision To Forgive, The Process Can’t Even Begin.

So how can you “forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you?” Paul answers that question for us in today’s text: “Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony].” (Colossians 3:12-14 AMP).

I love that God addresses our BEHAVIOR! And what should our Behavior be as Believers? “Tenderhearted Pity; Mercy; Kind Feeling; a Lowly Opinion of Ourselves; Gentle Ways; Patience; Tireless and Long-Suffering; Endurance; Good Temper; Forbearing; Pardoning; Forgiving; and Loving." And like it or not, but you cannot be Unforgiving, and yet Behave Christ-Like, nor call yourself a Christian!

Remember This: You are Commanded to Forgive! I think we’ve somehow forgotten that in today’s form of church. Now we forgive and forget conditionally, not unconditionally as we have been commanded! A “Command” is defined as, “To Give an Authoritative Order; a Charge by a Superior”. In other words, this is not a Suggestion! To “Suggest” means you have the opportunity to “Think it over; consider it; and change your mind”. You do not get to think it over whether you will forgive or not, you are commanded to do so by your Superior and the command is non-negotiable! And “Non-Negotiable” is defined as, “not open for discussion, debate or modification”. So, the next time you utter the words “let me pray about it”, when it comes to forgiveness, remember this is a Non-Negotiable Command That is Not Open for Suggestion, Discussion, Debate or Modification! This is NOT about your feelings, but about your obedience! Extending forgiveness as a believer does not depend on how you feel, what emotions you’re embracing, nor is it about waiting until you’re in a better mood or have adjusted your attitude, over time. It is about receiving a Direct Order from Your Superior Who has Commanded You to Hear and Heed! You don’t get to alter the Bible because someone hurt you. Their actions are never to alter your discipline to obey.

God makes it clear, you cannot “forgive” and then bring it back up again! How do I know that? Because He COMMANDED: “forgive as quickly and COMPLETELY as the Master forgave you” “Completely” is defined as “Entirely; Absolute; and Total”. I reiterate, this Command is Non-Negotiable!

Now am I saying this is easy? NOPE! Because personally I’ve had to forgive over the course of my life. But I also cannot deny the fact that I’ve had to be forgiven over the course of my life too. And it was not easy on either side, but it was Necessary for my Growth, Development, Maturity, Leadership and Even My Blessings! 

As a counselor & leader, I’ve sat across from cases where if I were in their shoes, I honestly don’t know if I could have forgiven some people and some stuff. It’s just that real. Victims forgiving their rapist and molesters; drug and alcohol addicted parents, children, spouses, siblings etc…who did and said some horrible things under the influence; the drunken driver that killed your family members; marriages that had to face infidelity and even children born during affairs; and dare we even address church hurt. And the list could go on and on forever because truthfully, saved and unsaved alike, we are still faulty, flesh and blood and we have a tendency to behave in manners that are not becoming, not just as believers, but also as human beings. Which is why, especially for the believer, we ought to daily thank God for grace and mercy. He has extended it more times than we’ve deserved it. And all of us, with one sin or another, are repeat offenders, who find ourselves back at the throne of grace again and again. 

None of us are perfect, and that’s not an excuse or a reason, it’s just the truth. However, as we grow in God and mature in our convictions, our long laundry list of wrongs ought to turn out right at some point! This takes time and practice, but it can be done.

Therefore, to practice this kind of forgiveness you must focus on a person’s worth, not their weaknesses. You must turn your heart away from what Was, to what Can Be. And to do that, we must always remember our Ministry: “But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him].” (2 Corinthians 5:18 AMP). Well, it’s kind of difficult to hate someone and bring them into harmony with Christ at the same time! So what helps? 

Remembering that YOU FIRST had to be brought into harmony with God! 
And it’s certainly hard to point clean fingers with dirty hands! You have to remember where you were, and what you did that needed forgiveness and restoration and then likewise extend the same unto others. Remember: “And as you would like and desire that men would do to you, do exactly so to them.” (Luke 6:31 AMP). If you want to receive forgiveness…give it; if you want to receive understanding…give it; if you want to receive restoration…give it; if you want a fresh new start…give it; if you want grace and mercy…give it; if you want patience and long-suffering…give it. It’s really more simple than it is complicated…just do unto others as you would want done unto you. And no one wants to be partially forgiven. So stop being the one who partially forgives.
And even with all of that said, there will always be the one person who asks, “But why should I forgive and forget?” Simple: 

1...Because God’s Word Tells You To. Challenge yourself this week and look up all the Scriptures you can find about forgive and forgiveness. Memorize a different one daily. You’ll be amazed at how softened your hard heart becomes towards others. Remember: Forgiveness is non-negotiable, meaning it is not open for discussion or up for debate. You’re commanded to do it and the Bible clearly states: “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.” (John 14:15 AMP). However, if you attempt to say you love God and yet hate your brother or sister, the Bible has a little more to say to you: “If anyone says, “I love God,” but keeps on hating his brother, he is a liar; for if he doesn’t love his brother who is right there in front of him, how can he love God whom he has never seen?” (1 John 4:20 TLB). If you love Him, you will keep His commandments, and His commandment is that you forgive quickly and completely. 

Because You Yourself Will Continue to Need Forgiveness. I don’t care how wonderful you are or think you are, but as long as you remain flesh and blood, you will sin, and therefore you will continue to need forgiveness. However, the Bible has already made clear that if you don’t forgive you will not be forgiven. It doesn’t matter how wealthy you may be, you cannot afford to be without the forgiveness of God.

2...Because You Weren’t Built to Carry the Stress that Goes with Resentment. Do you know how draining resentment is? It ages you, makes you hard and bitter, unloving, and intolerable. After all, would you want to hang out with someone who is always negative, complaining, bitter, and mean-spirited? Well, neither does anyone else. Stress kills, and so does resentment and unforgiveness. Your heart was never designed to hold hatred! So, what is your heart designed to hold? Psalm 119:11, "Your Word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You." (AMP) Your heart is to store and hold onto the Word of God. And what has the Word of God said to you? Forgive, completely and totally and quickly. In a nutshell: release it, release them and release you!"

Today is a good day to stop keeping score! Remember, we are many parts but only in one body. And whatever you do to one member, it affects the whole body! Hebrews 12:14-17, “Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. 

Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” (MSG)

Are you starting to see the real dangers found in unforgiveness? You don’t get to even see a glimpse of God because of your bitter discontent. You become one weed that ruins the whole garden. Not to mention you can find yourself like Esau, full of regret, but tears or no tears, you messed up and missed God’s blessing for all eternity. Do you really think unforgiveness is worth you paying that price?

Listen, When we keep score, we all lose because we’re fighting against our own teammates! How can we win a game while we're keeping score against one another? Therefore; no more. Determine this will be a New You! And the best way to start New, is to get rid of the Old. Today, get rid of Old attitudes of resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness. Fill your heart and life with love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness. You'll look better, you’ll feel better and you’ll live and be better! 

J.P. Olson

Monday, August 6, 2018

More The Surprise About Your Storm Is, That YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! I Know The Storm Blew Some Stuff All Over The Place, Some People Were Expecting You To Be Destroyed In The Storm: But Look At God!

Acts 27:44, "the rest were to follow, holding on to the planks or to some broken pieces of the ship. And this was how we all got safely ashore.” (GNT) 

It was some years ago, but I remember when they closed a local airport. You see there was a violent storm at Newark airport, and thousands of people had their plans suddenly changed indefinitely. I’ve come to find out in life, Storms have a way of doing just that!

There’s a snow storm, for example, and schools and businesses, even though they all had their plans made for the day, suddenly have all those plans thrown out the window. Meetings that HAD to be today are amazingly rescheduled. Planes and ships are diverted and all because of a storm. 

You see, a storm is a classic embodiment of that familiar phrase, “Due to circumstances beyond our control…” Ever heard that line? 

Truth is: maybe you’re in the middle of a storm right now. Your life and plans are being blown around in every possible direction, and it seems like everything is completely out of control. Well, if that’s your testimony, then I’ve got some really good news for you today! According to the Word of God, Acts 27 talks about A Stormy Surprise!

Now, I don’t know where your storm is right now, but maybe there’s something blowing your life out of control: (a marriage conflict; a troubled child; a financial crisis; a health scare; a job loss; or a ministry transition). Whatever your storm is, it’s blowing fierce and hard! And to make matters worse, you've already tried everything to get it back to smooth sailing, and yet, all you see in all directions is nothing but complete and utter chaos!

And by the way, if you’re one of those tremendously blessed folks who’s not in a storm Right Now, Just Stay Tuned; Your Forecast Will Change Just Like the Rest of Us! That’s just the way life is. Before you know it, out of no-where, the winds blow, the waves are high, the lightening is bright, the thunder is loud, the foundation is shaky, the cold airs of conflict and crisis strike, and you’re wondering if you’ll Survive the Storm! We all get them, so if you haven’t YET, simply Stay Tuned!

However, for those who feel that In Your Life Right Now Things Are Completely Out of Control By the Storms of Life, You’ll Most Definitely Be Able to Relate to Paul’s Storm in Acts 27!

What was happening was that Paul was being taken by Roman soldiers on a grain ship from Israel to Rome. They had a lot of water to cross to get from where Israel is and to cross the ocean and to get over to Italy where they needed to be, and in the middle of all this they encountered a terrible storm that lasted for fourteen days. Hurricane strength, we’re told in Acts 27:20

When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” (NIV). Now, if you’ve ever felt like all your points of reference were gone, like Acts 27:20, you couldn’t see the “…sun, the moon, the stars…” –Which Are All Things You Can Usually Count On To Be There As Your Day-to-Day, Consistent Point of Reference. When That’s Gone, The Storm Is Bad! The things you were able to hang on to before, They’re No Longer There! That one song that use to encourage you, now you can't remember one verse of it, that friend whose shoulder use to be available for you to lean on has vanished into thin air, that Scripture that would pop into your head right when you were ready to throw in the towel (and now you have no idea what book of the Bible it’s even found in). It feels as though all you used to Depend on has somehow Disappeared into the Darkness of the Storm! 

Well, maybe you’re there right now, and you know what, truth is, it’s easy to give up hope. I know "church folks" will tell you that's not supposed to ever happen to a believer. But truth is, life can get real hard, and heart breaking. 

It's difficult to keep a praise on your lips when your coworker is cursing you out. It's hard to keep joy when you've lost loved ones back-to-back. It's not easy to keep shouting when your marriage is screaming divorce. Its’ rough trying to teach Sunday school to other children when your own don't even attend. Life is not easy! No, not even for the believer. So never beat yourself up when you have a moment of lost hope, it happens to the best of us, from the pulpit to the door (whether we admit it or not)!

However, before you feel as if your lost hope can never be found again, keep this in mind: The Outcome of the Story Is What You Need to Take Note Of! Acts 27:44declares, “…Everyone Reached Land Safely.” They were blown into the rocks after two weeks, But It Says, IN THE END, They Were On An ISLAND! And in chapter 28 we find out the ISLAND was called MALTA! Do you know where Malta is? IT’S ON THE SOUTHERN COAST OF ITALY! Why is that such good news? Because, Regardless to a Violent Storm, They Ended Up Right Where They Were Heading All Along! Oh, they’d been out of control for two weeks or so it seemed, BUT THE WHOLE TIME THEY HAD BEEN OUT OF CONTROL, THEY HAD ACTUALLY BEEN RIGHT ON COURSE, AND SO ARE YOU!

The Surprise About Your Storm Is, That YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! I Know The Storm Blew Some Stuff All Over The Place, I Know You Received Some Bumps And Bruises And Even Some Brokenness In The Storm, But YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! As hectic as it is, as violent as it was, as rough as it’s been, as depressed as you’ve felt, YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE! Yes, with a marriage that seemed to be sinking, children that seemed to be jumping over-board, a ministry that seemed to lose the wind in its sails, and a health that has seemed to be tossed to and fro, from healthy to sick all in the same week, YOU MY FRIEND ARE STILL ON COURSE! REGARDLESS TO THE STORM, PAUL STILL ENDED UP EXACTLY WHERE HE WAS SUPPOSE TO BE…AND SO WILL YOU! SO, DON’T BE DISCOURAGED BY THE STORM, YOU’RE STILL ON COURSE!
Nahum 1:3 says, “…The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (AMP)

Look at this text in a few additional translations with some deeper insight:
“…He can BE SEEN in storms and in whirlwinds; clouds are the dust from His feet.” (CEV) Some encouragement during your storm is found in knowing that God is SEEN even in storms. The problem is that like Peter, we tend to focus on the storm instead of the Savior who’s in the storm With Us! Matthew 14:30-32, “But when he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus extended His hand and caught him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” (AMP) The key is knowing that Jesus is in the storms of life WITH us, and close enough to us in the storm, like Peter, that all He had to do was reach out His hand and touch him. He's that close to us in the storms of our lives as well. So take heart beloved, because in the harshest of storms, the hand of God is still nigh. Those are the things we lose sight of in storms. We began to focus on the ‘effects of the wind’ instead of keeping our eyes on the One who created and controls All the Elements! When your in the storms of life, don’t look at the storm or its effects, look for God, He can always be seen in the storm!

“…He will USE whirlwinds and storms to show His power. People walk on the dusty ground, but He walks on the clouds.” (ERV) Don’t be afraid of the storms, God uses storms to show forth His power! The problem is that we focus on how powerless we feel in the storms of life instead of focusing on how powerful God is even in the midst of the storm! In fact, He’s using the storm you’re in right now for your good not your harm. That's why you have to always condition yourself to look for the lessons He’s showing you on how to trust Him even in strong storms where you feel most weak! 2 Corinthians 12:9, “but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.” (AMP) God uses storms to showcase His power, and uses your weaknesses in the storms of life to do the same. Be encouraged in knowing that God is Using this storm on your behalf!

“…Raging winds and storms MARK HIS PATH, and clouds are the dust from His feet.” (GWT) When the winds and storms are raging in your life, don’t try to figure out which way to go, simply look for the Path of God. Follow His Footsteps and You’ll Exit the Storm Better Than You Entered it! Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].” (AMP) Don’t pace the floor in fear, walk by faith as you follow the path of God. If you just ask Him, He’ll show you the way to go! Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord, and He delights in his way [and blesses his path].” (AMP) In chaos, let God order your steps, and you will be sure to never stumble. Just ask Him to show you where He’s marked His path so you can follow it, instead of tripping over trouble trying to figure it all out on your own. Jeremiah 33:3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ (MSG)

“…He shows His power in the TERRORS of the cyclone and the raging storms; clouds are billowing dust beneath His feet!” (TLB) No matter how terrifying your storm is, know that God still shows His power in the terrors of the cyclone and the raging storms. When God is in the storm with you, you need not worry yourself, no matter how bad the storm is. Your Storm Will Never Be Bigger Than the Size of Your God! Remember, Your God is Omnipotent; Omnipresent; Omniscient; All-Powerful; All-Present and All-Knowing. What Storm Do You Know Can Top That?! Psalm 147:5, “Great is our [majestic and mighty] Lord and abundant in strength...” (AMP); “Great is our Lord and of great power…” (AMPC); “Our Lord is great and so strong…” (CEB); Our Lord is great and powerful…” (CEV); “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power…” (ESV); “Our Lord is great, and His power is great…” (GWT); “How great He is! His power is absolute!” (TLB); “Our Lord is great, with limitless strength…” (MSG) Now, with a God that Great, are you really going to let this temporary storm scare you?!

“…Tornadoes and hurricanes are the wake of His passage, Storm clouds are the dust He shakes off His feet…” (MSG); “…Where the Lord goes, there are whirlwinds and storms, and the clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (NCV) I hope you’re starting to understand that when God is in the storm with you, you are in the safest place in all the world! And that means even in the midst of the tornado, hurricane, whirlwind and storm, He is always present, and you are always protected! After all, the Bible says, “Where the Lord goes, there are whirlwinds and storms…” If you’re in a storm, God is already there, so take heart!

Be Not Discouraged! The Lord Is Still In Control of Your Care and Course…Despite the Storm!

Believe It Or Not, As Bad As It Looks, His Ways Still Work…Even In the Storms of Life! And for an added bonus, God speaks in storms too!  “And now, finally, GOD answered Job from THE EYE OF A VIOLENT STORM…” (Job 38:1 MSG) Never feel as though storms have the power to cut off your communication from God. He sees you, He hears you, He speaks to you, He’s there with you! Even when the storm is Violent it can’t silence His Voice! So, make sure that while you’re in the storm, you keep your ears open, the Lord has a wonderful way of communicating calm even in the midst of chaos! Listen to the Bible: “Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?” Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!” (Mark 4:35-41 MSG) Your storm is never designed to take you out! You just have to remember what happened BEFORE the storm took place: The Bible says, "…He said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” The best lifesaver in the storms of life is to always remember what “…HE SAID…”! He didn’t suggest to go, He said LET’S GO! When God is with you never let what’s around you distract you from the direction He’s already given you! If HE SAID let’s go across to the other side, it doesn’t matter what takes place along the journey, one way or another you will reach the other side! Remember: Your Storm is Keeping You On Course! Yes, Even With All of Its’ Chaos! Therefore, Never Allow the Sound of the Storm to Drown Out What God Has Already Said!

Your Storms Will NEVER Be Powerful Enough To Short-Circuit The Power Of The God You Serve! Remember: Even Jesus Himself had to face storms: “Right now I AM STORM-TOSSED. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’” A voice came out of the sky: “I have glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.” (John 12:27-28 MSG) Jesus Himself was “…STORM-TOSSED…” yet He determined to endure it because it would display the glory of the Father! And as bad as your storm is, and as violently as it’s tossing you to and fro, don’t give up, give out or give in! Stick it out! You will eventually arrive to your destination and there will be glory after this!

Yes, In the End You May Just Make It By On Broken Pieces, However, That Still Does Not Change the Unchangeable Fact and Truth, That You Still Made It!  

Jesus made it to the Crown, but not without the Cross, Enemies, Spit, Mockery, Piercing, Tomb, Grave, Nails, Pain, Suffering, Agony, Blood, Sweat etc…Yes, He made it, but it was a horrible journey. And yet He didn’t stop and take down the sails, He stayed the course, because there was too much Purpose and Promise on the other side of this. Likewise it is for you!

Paul Was Destined For Italy, and the Storm Would Not Be A Distraction, But a Driving Force to Ensure He Made It There! And Not Just Made It There, But Made It There With the Testimony of What He Had to Make It Through To Get There! And if it’s anyone who has a testimony of endurance, it’s certainly Paul! The Bible says, “I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones…” (2 Corinthians 11:23-29 MSG) Now, if Paul can survive THAT, you can survive THIS!

Listen: Your Storm Will Not Be a Straight Path To Your Destination! And After All, Who Wants to Hear the Boring Story of How You Left Here, and Simply Made It Straight There, With No Bumps, Bruises or Brokenness…Who Can Relate To That?!That’s Why Your Storm Is Adding Streets, Paths, Cliffs, Dead-Ends, U-Turns, Corners, Hills, Avenues, Back Alley’s, Valley’s and More to Your Story’s Journey! People Will Be Able to Relate to What You’ve Been Through, and then Further Be Encouraged to Know That They Can and Will Make It Through Just the Same!

You may feel like you’re either going nowhere right now or you’re on the verge of utter shipwreck disaster; maybe on the verge of being blown on the rocks even to crash and burn. But remember, the surprise in the storm is this: GOD STILL CONTROLS SEEMINGLY OUT-OF-CONTROL TIMES! He uses them to blow His children right where they were supposed to go all along! SO DON’T LET THE STORM DISCOURAGE YOU, DISTRACT YOU OR DISHEARTEN YOU! THE BOTTOM LINE IS: THE STORM IS KEEPING YOU ON COURSE! YOU WILL SURVIVE AND YOU WILL HAVE AN AWESOME STORY AND TESTIMONY TO TELL ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORM!  

J.P. Olson