We all like to have our way. It’s a natural and normal thing that comes with being human. It’s not necessarily the best, safest, or healthiest thing for us. God has a better way. His way. But sometimes people just can’t tell us differently or convince us otherwise: our way is the best way! It’s this stubborn, inextinguishable belief that’s a huge part of the reason why we like having our way.

As you know full well by now, things don’t always go the way we planned. It’s a real downer and a source of frustration, disappointment, anger, and tears. But that’s life. And we find a way to go on.

But when things don’t pan out the way God said they would, then that becomes a really really difficult thing for me. I’m a believer. I take God at His Word. When He makes me a promise and I take Him up on that promise, I fully expect Him to do what He said He would do. And when He doesn’t, I go through a serious time of reflection and questioning. Is God’s Word true or not? Of course it is, silly! Then why didn’t it work?

I like to have answers. Sometimes, the answers are easy. Sometimes hard to fathom or digest. Sometimes there aren’t any answers. At least, not right now. Maybe down the road. Maybe never. But whether I understand the reasons or not, I’m still a believer. God expects me to continue believing Him. Continue serving Him. Continue praising Him. And since I’m a preacher, God expects me to continue preaching the Word of truth and life.

The Biblical characters were very much like you and me. They were, in fact, totally human. Just like you and me. Life didn’t always pan out for them too. How they responded and dealt with the mess they weren’t expecting  can be a compass, or a lighthouse, to get us back on track with the Lord. So, from beyond the grave, the dead speak and show us how to continue being faithful when it looks as if God isn’t.


When life falls apart on you, your dreams are shattered, and you’re living a nightmare that defies explanation or escape; at some point after you’ve cried and fussed and searched for reasons or explanations, you’ve got to settle down, have a quiet, pensive moment alone with God, and realize that devils unseen are lurking all around you.

These devils have either been allowed by God to wreak havoc on you in order to try or test you (as in Job’s case in Job chapters 1 & 2); or else they’re using the using the law of consequences (that is, the law of sowing and reaping) or God’s chastening hand on you to worsen your suffering and draw you away from God.

There are reasons why things happen. Understanding what these reasons are are sooo helpful because they help us formulate a proper response to our sufferings.

But whether we know what these reasons are or not, the one thing we’ve got to remember and be aware of is the devil’s on the loose. He’s likely perched on your shoulder, as it were. And he’s talking to you, he’s working you over, so that you get bitter and disillusioned with God, you cuss Him out, and walk away from Him.


We can look at the familiar story of Job because we know that the devil was definitely involved in that nightmare. But I’d like to look at someone else because, like a lot of us in our time of troubles and trials, the devil wasn’t readily seen. Let’s look at a widow living in Zarephath (1 Kings 17).

Now Zarephath was a small village located between Tyre and Sidon. This was Phoenician territory. The infamous Queen Jezebel was a Phoenician. So this widow was, in all likelihood, a heathen. I personally think she became a believer after Elijah was done with her, but that’s skipping ahead. Like a lot of the heathens back then, she was somewhat familiar with the God of Israel. Israel, after all, was a neighboring nation. And with all the miracles that God did for Israel through the years, just about everyone in Palestine and the surrounding areas knew a little something about the God of Might and Miracles and Mercies.

Anyways, the whole of Palestine was in the midst of a drought, no thanks to Elijah (1 Kings 17:1). It had been going on for some time now that it was to a point where people were starting to die from hunger and dehydration. The widow had a son. And she had enough flour and oil in the house left for one last meal. It would be their last meal. Then, like many others, they would succumb to death.

She was out gathering sticks for the fire when she met up with Elijah the prophet. She could tell right off that he was an Israelite and, judging by the clothes he wore, that he was a prophet. Anyways, you’ve either got to love this guy or else hate him. He asks the widow for some water. And, as she was going to get the water, he also asked her for some bread.

Now get this. There’s a severe drought and famine in the land. He’s a complete stranger. A foreigner. He comes to a lady and asks her for water and food. As if she had enough water and food to share with strangers! What’s even more astounding is, she tells him she’s only got enough food for one last meal for her son and herself, then they’d be completely out and dead. Yet, in spite of knowing her desperate situation, Elijah still insists that she make him food and that she make it for him first, or serve him first: her son and she could have whatever he didn’t eat. How audacious, selfish, and insensitive is that?

Remarkably, and to her credit, she obeys the prophet. Imagine what faith she must have had to share her last meal with a complete stranger. If I was her, it’d have been awfully hard to share. Maybe if there was enough to share, yes. Maybe if there weren’t any children to feed, yes. But when we’re talking about a pittance and a stranger, sharing or caring just isn’t something that comes naturally. You don’t even think about it. But the woman complies with the prophet’s request.

And to her blessed surprise, the prophet miraculously multiplies her flour and oil so that, for the remainder of the famine and drought, the widow and her son ate rather well. They never ran out. They always had food to eat! Suddenly, to her blessed relief, her worries are gone. Life looked bright once again.

Now comes the part when life falls apart on this widow. Her son gets sick. He gets sicker by the day. And eventually he dies. You’d have to wonder what the prophet was doing all that time that the boy was sick. All indications are that he lived with them. He did a miracle with the flour and oil. Couldn’t he have done a miracle and saved the boy’s life?

Anyways, the boy dies. I’d like for you to look at the woman’s response to her unbearable tragedy. In 1 Kings 17:18 she went up to the prophet and asked in tears, if not in rage, What do you have against me, O man of God? Have you come to me to remind God of my sin and cause the death of my son?  In the widow’s mind, Elijah’s presence caused God to remember her sin; whatever that sin was, it must have been awful and condemning enough to gnaw at her soul; and, as a result of His remembrance, God killed the boy as a punishment for her sin. As she saw it, Elijah was directly responsible for her son’s death.

Now get this. Before meeting up with the prophet this widow and her son were as good as dead. They had only enough food for one meal, then it was curtains for them. The prophet showed up and, miraculously, the woman and her son had food enough to last them through the famine. They lived! They didn’t hunger for the duration of the famine. The widow knew this miracle of provision was an act of God. God did this for her because the prophet was a man of God. And God, being the world-renowned God of Might and Miracles and Mercies, did a wondrous, life-saving miracle for her. God showed her just how loving, gracious, merciful, and kind He is. He cared for her and her son. And He took them of them.

If God wanted to punish this widow for her sin He could have done it a long time ago. Yeah, God doesn’t always punish sin right away. But why would God give her and her son a life-saving miracle if He wanted to kill them? He wouldn’t have needed to do anything to kill them: the famine would have done that for Him. But God intervened through the prophet and saved this widow alive because He loved her and cared for her. The widow had to have known this and, if she was like some of us, she would have gone to bed every night thanking her lucky stars that they all had food to eat for that day.

The widow, I’m saying, lived every day with a miracle from God. And now, when her worst nightmare came true, she blamed God and the prophet for her terrible misfortune and unbearable loss. Does this sound like logical thinking to you? It shouldn’t. It’s a loony way of looking at the terrible things that have happened to you. God wouldn’t have saved you only to kill you. He wouldn’t have been gracious and kind, only to strike you down. That’s not how God works. And the proof of it is, God raised the dead boy back to life again (1 Kings 17:21-22). He proved to the widow, once again, that He was the God of Might and Miracles and Mercies. He corrected her mistaken theology.

So what am I saying in all this? I’m saying that even though the devil is nowhere mentioned or seen in this account, he was every bit present, working, and talking to this woman, convincing her that her son’s sickness and death was her fault; God was punishing her for her sins; God wasn’t merciful, forgiving, or forgetting; God was out to kill her and the love of her life; God was against her.

Beloved brethren, the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). When that kind of stuff is going on in your life, quit blaming God. It isn’t God who’s doing that to you. It’s the devil. You don’t see him. But he’s there with you, whispering to you, and getting you to think and say loony things so that you’ll blame God, hate Him, and turn your back on Him.

When life becomes a nightmare you need a miracle from God. Turn to Him. God’s gracious, forgiving, and kind. He’s a God of Might and Miracles and Mercies. He loves you. And He’s willing to prove it to you once again. In fact, GOD NEVER TIRES OF PROVING HIS LOVE FOR YOU! HE LOVES TO PROVE TO YOU THAT HE LOVES YOU! Don’t turn your back on God! Turn around! And watch a miracle happen!



Some people love challenges. They’ll look at something new. Something hard. And they’ll take up the challenge of doing it just to get the satisfaction or thrill of knowing they can do something they’ve never done before. Something hard. Challenging. Exhilirating.

Just so you know, I am not that way at all. I am 1,000,000,000,000% a comfort-zone type of guy. I like doing the doable. That means it’s easy and doesn’t demand a whole lot of  my time, effort, or thinking. When it comes to what’s new, difficult, or challenging, you can generally count me out, folks. I’m not touching it with a ten-foot pole! 

I won’t do the difficult—not unless I’m forced to—because life already has too many difficulties and challenges. I don’t need to  add to them. I don’t need any more trials or challenges!  I’m heading into my golden years and I love to relax, take it easy, and do what I love doing most. Can you guess what that is? It’s studying  the Bible and writing. I just love spending time with the Lord because He talks to me a lot of times—not audibly, but in my spirit—and He tells me lots of really neat stuff. Stuff that I’ve just got to share with you. This blog is a perfect example of the stuff God gives me when I spend time with Him. I love Him. I love what I’m doing. But I dread doing the difficult.

Here’s a question for you. When the Lord asks you to do something difficult…no, strike that. When the Lord tells you to do something difficult, something you really don’t want to do, something you think is impossible, something that’s a Are you out of your mind? I can’t do that! type of thing; what do you do?

Just so you know, you’re not the only one who’s had to do something really really hard. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there and done that. The biblical characters weren’t any different from us. In fact, they were exactly like us. Human. I’d like to draw on their life’s experiences and, from beyond the grave, as it were, let them share with us what we’ve got to do when the Lord gives us our Mission I M possible. By God’s grace, we can do what God’s counting on us to do! Here’s how.


Pride can be a real motivator for achievement or success. If you’ve ever shown off or bragged about something you did (who of us hasn’t) then you know the power of pride to spur you—not only to get things done, but to get them done in truly braggable fashion.


Nathan was an Old Testament prophet. He isn’t ranked with the big-name prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah. But he served and prophesied during the reigns of Israel’s two greatest kings, King David and King Solomon.

Now King David was one of Israel’s most outstanding and victorious military heroes. He conquered and expropriated so much of the enemy’s territories that Israel was the biggest that it ever was, territorially speaking, when David was on the throne.

Anyways, with all his conquests, plunders, and consequent wealth, David built for himself the nicest palace that any king or ruler of Israel had up to that point in time. It was so nice, so luxurious, that he started feeling bad that God didn’t have as nice a house as he did. The Tabernacle was a tent. A portable tent. And David really wanted to build God something more permanent. A House made of stone and of the finest and costliest of  goods that was truly befitting and deserving of the great God that he served. So David approached Nathan with the idea: Hey, Nathan. Get a load of this. Here I am living in a beautiful cedar palace. And the Ark of God’s out there in a tent (2 Samuel 7:2).

Nathan thought about it for a moment and said (2 Samuel 7:3), Wow! You’re right! That’s a great idea, David. Go for it! I know the Lord’s with you. The Lord truly was with David. But saying it the way Nathan said it was a Hebraic way of saying, God’s with you, He’s given you this desire to build Him a House, so go ahead and do it. Just as God helped you conquer the nations and gave you rest from all your wars, so God will be with you and help you get this House built. Logically, circumstantially, and historically, everything that Nathan said made perfect sense. Besides that, David’s desire was noble. It was for God’s glory. David’s plan had God’s Name written all over it!

The only problem was, that wasn’t what God told Nathan to say. As a prophet, Nathan was supposed to wait on God, or go to God, for His take on things. A prophet said what God told him to say. And God didn’t tell Nathan to tell David to go ahead and build Him a House. Nathan spoke in the flesh: he was saying what Nathan wanted to say, not what God him told to say. It’s a perfect illustration of how something that sounds so good and right and godly, or of the Lord, can be anything but. What sounds good to us may not be good to God. What looks right to us may not be right to God.

Sometimes, a “good” idea to us may not necessarily be bad because it’s really bad. Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing. David wanted to build God a permanent House of Worship: a House made of stone, not of perishable skins or tents. Truth was, God wanted such a House built too, but it wasn’t for David to build it (1 Chronicles 22:8). That task would go to David’s son, Solomon (2 Samuel 7:12-13). Now wasn’t the right time for God’s House to be built. So the bad idea really was a matter of bad timing. A good idea can be good, but now is not the right time to implement it.

Getting back to Nathan, he went back home and that night the Lord gave him a talking-to: Go and tell King David that I’m not gonna let him build Me My House (2 Samuel 7:4-17).

This is the really, really difficult part. Nathan’s a prophet of the Lord. He’s known as the guy that God speaks to. So when he’s speaking by Divine utterance people automatically trust that what he’s saying is from God. Nathan is going to suffer a real setback to his credibility and believability. This misstep in the flesh is gonna cost him the loss of the people’s confidence and respect.

Then consider who Nathan has to go to and apologize. If it was a friend, a peon, a nobody, an admission of wrong and an apology isn’t that big a deal. It’s humbling. But it’s doable. But Nathan is dealing with the King. He’s the King’s spiritual confidante and advisor. The King trusts and respects him. David holds him in honor and esteem. Nathan’s got the King all pumped up about his plans to build the Temple. The King may already be working on it. The King’s probly told His Palace staff and the High Priest about the forthcoming Temple. How do you go to the King and tell him you were wrong? That you spoke out of turn. That it wasn’t God who spoke to you. How do you tell the King who’s set on building God a grand and glorious House to put his plans on hold? How do you tell him not to do what he’s got his heart and mind set on doing? How would the King respond? What will the King do to you? What will he think of you?

Are you getting the drift here? Nathan’s got a very, very difficult task ahead of him. It’s gonna be humiliating and humbling. He’s gonna have to swallow his pride, humble himself, go to the King personally, and tell him face-to-face that he was wrong. No easy thing to do. In fact, it can’t be done if we insist on being proud. IN A MISSION I M POSSIBLE LIKE THIS, OBEYING GOD CAN ONLY BE DONE IF WE SET OUR PRIDE ASIDE, SWALLOW IT, CRUCIFY IT, EAT HUMBLE PIE, AND SUFFER WHATEVER HUMILIATION MAY COME OUR WAY  

Friends, don’t let pride stand in the way of your obedience to God. Pride will get you into more trouble with God. Humbling yourself isn’t gonna kill you. It’s gonna kill your pride, which is exactly what needs to happen. Humble yourself, ask God to give you favor, He’ll give you all the grace you need (James 4:6), and you’ll come out just fine. In fact, a little higher than before (James 4:10).

Doing God’s will is incredibly hard, in fact, it really is a Mission Impossible, if you’re proud. So how do you do the difficult? With God’s grace. And that comes by being humble.



Faith is a requirement for answered prayer. But what, exactly, does God want us to believe. We believe in Him. We believe He’s the one and only real, true God. We believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. We believe Jesus is the Divine Son of God, born of a virgin. We believe in Heaven and Hell. We believe Jesus is coming back to Earth again. We believe a lot of things that are right and true because we believe God and the Bible.

Even though we believe right, Biblical doctrine, this isn’t the kind of faith that God wants us to have when we pray. To be sure, He wants us to believe right doctrine. But that’s not what gets us answers to prayer. So what are we supposed to believe when we pray.

1. BELIEVE THAT GOD’S PROMISE IS TRUEIf you want answers to prayer you’ve got to believe that what God promised or told you is true.

When Jesus went to Bethany to raise Lazarus up from the dead, He turned to Martha and gave her a promise: Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die (John 11:25-26a). After He made her the promise He asked Martha, Do you believe this?

Like Martha, God has made us many promises. He promised to do a lot of things for us. And like Jesus’ question to Martha, God’s asking us, Do you believe this? Do you believe what I’ve told you or promised you?   TO   GET   ANSWERS    TO PRAYER YOU’VE GOT TO BELIEVE THAT WHAT GOD TOLD YOU, OR PROMISED YOU, IS TRUE. It’s not a lie. It’s true because He said it.

2. BELIEVE THAT GOD IS ABLE TO DO WHAT HE PROMISED. When you pray and ask God to do something for you, you’ve got to believe that He’s able to do whatever it is you’re asking Him to do.

Two blind men followed Jesus one day. They cried out for Jesus to have mercy on them and heal them. When Jesus heard their cry He asked them, Do you believe that I am able to do this (Matthew 9:28)? They answered Yes. And, as a result, they got their sight back.

God wants you to believe that He can do whatever you need Him to do. You see, the concept of God that so many people have is, God is just like men. If men can’t heal a disease, then neither can God. If men can’t protect you from a calamity, then neither can God. If men can’t do anything for you, then neither can God. Do you see what I mean? So many people limit God’s ability because God, to them, is just like men. Consequently, they only ask God to do what men can do. They ask God to do only what’s possible with men.

The problem is, we need a God who can do what men can’t do. We need Him to do the impossible for us. Whether it’s healing from cancer or AIDS, protection from a rapist, murderer, or stalker, deliverance from a menacing hurricane or tornado; we need God to help us when men just can’t do anything for us. And in order for Him to help us we’ve got to believe that He can help us. He’s smart enough to know how to help us. And He’s strong enough to do just that—even when no one else can help us.

Matthew 19:26 comforts us with the knowledge that with God all things are possible. Luke 1:37 echoes the same truth, For with God nothing shall be impossible. Now these words nothing and all things assure us that God can do whatever we need Him to do for us. Nothing is beyond God’s ability or power to do—even if it’s humanly, naturally, medically, or scientifically impossible.


If you don’t believe that God can do what you need to have done, then don’t ask God to do it because this is a prayer that He won’t answer. IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE HE CAN, HE WON’T. GOD ANSWERS THE PRAYER OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE HE CAN.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post In This Series, Part 9. I’m gonna post a couple more things to believe that will probly blow most of you away, but it’s true nevertheless because it’s what God said and requires. I’ve found that believing God can either be very, very difficult, or else very, very easy. The difference between the two is my concept of God. If your God really is all-powerful and can do anything, and I mean anything (except sin), then drop by for a visit next week and you’ll see that what seems so hard to believe at first really isn’t that hard after all. See you then and may God shower you with His blessings!


We all want answers to prayer. That’s why we pray in the first place. To get the help we need from God. Unfortunately, prayer by itself doesn’t guarantee an answer from God. Asking by itself doesn’t automatically mean we’re gonna get what we asked God for. It’s not because God doesn’t want to answer our prayer. Rather, it’s because God laid out several conditions that we must meet: He wants us to do certain things before He’ll answer our prayer. That may not seem right or fair to a lot of people. But that’s just the way it is. God is God and the conditions that He’s set for answered prayer are, no joke, for our good. They keep us dependent on Him instead of using Him as a celestial Santa Claus to become greedy, selfish, and materialistic.

For organization’s sake, I’ve categorized the conditions for answered prayer into three broad categories: conditions we must meet before we pray, conditions we must meet when we pray, and finally, conditions we must meet after we pray.

In the six preceding posts we looked at the things God wants us to do before we pray. Let’s turn our attention now to the things God wants us to do when we pray.


God wants you to believe when you pray. That’s how you get answers to prayer. By believing. Jesus taught us how to pray or ask in Matthew 21:22, And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Mark 11:24 similarly reads, Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.


Another way of saying it is doubters receive nothing. James 1:6-8 makes this very clear. But when you ask for something, you must have faith and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like an ocean wave tossed around in a storm.  (7 & 8)  If you are that kind of person, you can’t make up your mind, and you surely can’t be trusted. So don’t expect the Lord to give you anything at all.

Brethren, if you want your prayers answered you mustn’t doubt. DOUBT AND UNBELIEF WILL KEEP YOU FROM RECEIVING THE ANSWERS TO YOUR PRAYER. Jesus very plainly told us this in Mark 11:23, For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.


Faith is such an amazing thing. IT WILL MOVE THE HAND OF GOD TO DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO HAVE DONE. Of course, you’ve got to meet the other conditions for answered prayer. And when you do, FAITH MAKES ALL THINGS POSSIBLE, no matter how hopeless or impossible things may look.

Do yourself a favor and instead of doubting what I just said, instead of looking at your circumstances and reinforcing your fears and doubts; focus on what Jesus said in Mark 9:23. FOCUS! He said, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. He knows how hard it is for us to believe sometimes. So He repeats Himself in Matthew 17:20, hoping to drive the point home and get all the doubt out of our heart and mind. He said, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Is Jesus true or not? Is He lying? If He isn’t, and He isn’t, then it’s really true: everything is possible. God can do whatever we need Him to do for us! If we believe!

  • The Roman centurion didn’t want his servant to die. He trusted Jesus to heal him even though he was dying. Jesus told him, as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee, Matthew 8:13. Of course, the guy believed and his servant got well again that very hour.
  • Two men were incurably blind. Back in those days there was nothing that could be done for them. They lived without the hope of ever seeing again. But the blind men chose to believe Jesus for healing and sight. Jesus said to them, According to your faith be it unto you, Matthew 9:29. They believed. And as a result, they saw.
  • The Syro-Phoenician woman was the same way. At first, Jesus refused to pay any attention to her. Then He flat out denied her and insulted her. But the woman would not be denied. She persisted in her prayer request. Jesus told her in Matthew 15:28, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. Do I need to tell you what happened after that? The lady got what she asked Jesus for.


Let me hasten to say here that, while faith is indeed a powerful substance or force for good; the real power behind faith is not faith itself, but the object of our faith—that is God. Jesus told us in Mark 11:22, Have faith in God. It’s God who answers prayer. It’s God who works miracles. It’s God who makes people, nature, and demons do His will. It’s God who makes our bodies, the forces of nature, and demons line up with whatever it is we’re believing and asking God to do. GOD IS THE POWER. So don’t be foolish and have faith in yourself or have faith in the power of faith. Look to God. Have faith in Him. And God will give you the desires of your heart.

Coming Up On My Next Post In This Series, Part 8. Okay, we know that we need to believe. But what exactly are we supposed to believe? Trust me, you don’t want to miss this next post! See you in a week. And in the mean time I’ll be praying and asking God to help us all believe. It isn’t easy sometimes. I know. But as we focus our eyes on God and settle the fact that nothing is impossible for God to do, then faith becomes so much easier! It really does! Don’t despair, my friend. We have hope. Because we have God. See you next week. And may the blessings of God be on you.


We all like to have things our way. It’s a natural and normal thing that comes with being human. It’s not necessarily the best, safest, or healthiest thing for us. God has a better way. His way. But sometimes people just can’t tell us differently or convince us otherwise: our way is the best way! It’s this stubborn, inextinguishable belief that’s a huge part of the reason why we like having our way.

As you know full well by now,  things don’t always go the way we planned. It’s a real downer and a source of frustration, disappointment, anger, and tears. But that’s life. And we find a way to go on.

But when things don’t pan out the way God said they would, then that becomes a really really difficult thing for me. I’m a believer. I take God at His Word. When He makes me a promise and I take Him up on that promise, I fully expect Him to do what He said He would do. And when He doesn’t, I go through a serious time of reflection and questioning. Is God’s Word true or not? Of course it is, silly! Then why didn’t it work?

I like to have answers. Sometimes the answers are easy. Sometimes hard to fathom or digest. Sometimes there aren’t any answers. At least, not right now. Maybe down the road. Maybe never. But whether I understand the reasons or not, I’m still a believer. God expects me to continue believing Him. Continue serving Him. Continue praising Him. And since I’m a preacher, God expects me to continue preaching the Word of truth and life.

Thanks for giving me a few moments of your time. Allow me to share with you some of the things God showed me recently  about the troubles we go through from time to time.


When things don’t pan out the way we thought they would, sometimes it’s a matter of chastening. Nothing’s working out right because God’s chastening us and trying to call our attention to the fact that we need to repent and get things right. Sometimes, the law of reaping and sowing is taking effect and we’re suffering the bad effects or results of the bad things that we’ve done.

Sometimes we haven’t done anything wrong and things still go wrong. You’re doing all the right things. You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You haven’t messed up or misbehaved. Why is this happening to me, God? What the heck is going on?

If you really want to know, grab yourself a seat and sit down because this answer is gonna blow you away. Things are falling apart on you and going wrong because you haven’t done anything wrong! A genuine trial is in progress. What is a trial? A trial is a set of troubles or sufferings that God is using to build Christian character in you. It doesn’t mean you sinned or did something wrong. It simply means God wants to make you a better Christian. There’s always room for improvement. And that’s what a trial is. It’s what I call a soul-improvement time or opportunity.

James 1:2-4 puts it this way, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  (3)  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  (4)  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

You see, trials have this purpose in mind: to make you a mature Christian and complete, not lacking anything. Complete? What does that mean? It means God made us Christians to have a whole bunch of things. Virtues. Character traits. The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 contain a lot of these character traits. They’re important because they’re what Christians are supposed to be. We’re not supposed to be the heathens that we were before we got saved. Being a Christian is a transformation process—a type of personality change—where we become like Jesus. In fact, that’s one goal of the Christian life: we’re supposed to grow and get better and better until we become like Jesus.  He Himself told us in Luke 6:40, Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher. Jesus, brethren, wants us to become just like Him. This takes a lifetime of growth and learning. And trials are a crucial part of this transformation process.

When things aren’t working out the way they’re supposed to, get alone with God. Ask Him what’s going on. Did you do something wrong? Is He chastening you? What is He trying to teach you? If you haven’t done anything wrong and God hasn’t shown you anything wrong, chances are, God’s allowing these troubles in your life to improve you and make you a better Christian.

There are three things that you need to know about trials. (1) The first thing you need to know is God generally works on one thing at a time. Sometimes He picks your faith and goes to work on that: He uses your trial to teach you to trust Him and keep on trusting Him no matter what happens. Sometimes He singles out your anger and gives you a chance—not to be angry like usual, but a chance to not be angry and instead do the Christian thing and be nice, be kind, be sympathetic and understanding. Sometimes He picks on your patience. It seems to be in rather short supply lately, so He gives you lots of delays in traffic and people who move intolerably slow. You’re tempted to get frustrated and impatient. But the thing that you’ve got to remember is God put these slow-moving people and circumstances deliberately in your way so that you’ll use this opportunity to become patient. Do you see what I mean? A trial focuses on one thing at a time.

When things are going really troublesome for you, instead of blowing up right away and getting exasperated with God and people, take a deep breath, calm down, and ask God what good work He’s trying to do in you today. He’ll let you know if you don’t already know. Then cooperate with Him. Let God do that work of self-improvement in you.

And this brings me to the second thing you need to know about trials. (2) A trial doesn’t end until God finishes what He sets out to do in you. If you cooperate and make the change that God’s looking for, the trial ends quickly. Resist God’s work and the trial drags on. And on. And on. Friends, the trial will end when you’ve changed and improved. God works incrementally. He doesn’t expect 100% on the first go-round. Maturity and growth take time. It’s incremental. You don’t have to be perfect and be a complete angel before the trial gets done. If God sets out to do a 5% improvement in your compassion, that’s when the trial will end—when you’re 5% more compassionate than before. Do you see what I mean? A trial is designed to do one special thing and accomplish one special goal. And when you’ve accomplished God’s goal, that’s when the trial ends. So if the trial is still in progress, if it’s dragging on and on, it’s because God’s purposes haven’t been accomplished yet: you’ve still got some changing and improving to do.

And this brings me to the third and final thing you need to know about trials. (3) Every trial you go through will eventually come to an end. Sooner or later, you’ll fall in line with God’s plan, you’ll make the change, because you want the trial to end. God promised you your trial would end. He said, You will get it. You’ll have what you prayed for. So matter how painful or frustrating the trial may be, endure it with rejoicing just like James 1:2 tells you because you know the trial will eventually end one of these days. God gave you a promise and He will not lie. Believe and obey. And you’ll see God’s promise come true.

So what do you do when life doesn’t pan out and things just aren’t improving or getting any better? Ask God and learn what He’s wanting to do in your life—what areas of your personality, thoughts, or life He’s wanting to change or improve. Concentrate on making the change. The sooner you change, the sooner things pan out just the way God said they would. God bless you with His grace and ever-loving presence.



Even as Christians, we are still an imperfect people. We make mistakes.

  • Sometimes, the mistakes are unknowing or unintentional: we didn’t know what we were doing at the time. We were just plain ignorant.
  • Sometimes, the mistakes are a weakness of the flesh. While we have the best of intentions and spiritual desires, we were caught off guard in a temptation and, in a moment of weakness or passion, we gave in to sin. Afterwards, we really grieve over what happened, we condemn ourselves for it, because we knew better. We lament and regret our weakness.

Sometimes, however, the mistakes are willful and knowledgeable. We knew what we were doing. And we did it willfully and deliberately because we wanted to do it. We were, at that point, willfully rebelling against God’s law. We did what we wanted to do. And we didn’t care what anyone—including God—said about it. We sinned because we wanted to sin!


We don’t like hearing it and we don’t want to hear it. So let me say it once again. Sin has consequences. It brings us suffering. And the root cause of this sin and suffering is a selfish, self-willed, stubborn, rebellious, desire to do something we know is wrong and displeasing to God. It is this sinful desire that the Lord wants us to get  rid of.

Unfortunately, we’re not going to get rid of this sinful desire on our own choice or initiative because we love the sin too much that we’re not going to give it up or let it go on our own. God is going to have to force us to give up this sinful desire. He’s going to have to bring us to a point where we finally admit and decide that this one sin isn’t worth all the suffering and grief we’re going through. This is the change that the Lord wants to produce in us.


This theme of suffering brings me to our next principle of change. And the principle is this. IN ORDER FOR US TO CHANGE WE NEED TO LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES AND PROFIT FROM OUR SUFFERINGS.

Now there are many different kinds of sufferings. There are many different reasons why God’s people suffer. But the one reason and cause for suffering that I’d like to look at today is the suffering that is the result of sin. It’s called chastisement or chastening. When we sin God chastises us. Hebrews 12:6-8 puts it this way, For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child. (7)  As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?  (8)  If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all.

God loves His children. He loves you by name! And when you disobey Him He chastens you. GOD’S CHILDREN ARE CHASTENED AND DISCIPLINED WHEN THEY SIN. It’s definitely not fun or enjoyable. In fact, we hate it and we don’t want it. But God lays it on us because He loves us. Chastening is proof that God still loves us and we’re still His children!

Why does chasten us? Because CHASTENING IS MEANT TO CHANGE US. TO MAKE US MORE RIGHTEOUS. MORE OBEDIENT. It will do this if we submit to the suffering, learn from our sin, and choose next time to be righteous instead of sinful.

Hebrews 12:10-11 tells us,  Our human fathers correct us for a short time, and they do it as they think best. But God corrects us for our own good, because he wants us to be holy, as he is.  (11)  It is never fun to be corrected. In fact, at the time it is always painful. But if we learn to obey by being corrected, we will do right and live at peace.

Let’s look at how chastisement changed a stubborn, hard-headed fellow named Jonah who, not surprisingly, was a spitting image of us. 


Jonah was a prophet in Israel. And as a prophet, it was Jonah’s job to go to whoever and wherever God sent him to speak the message that God gave him to speak. On this particular occasion, God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach a word of warning and destruction (Jonah 1:1-2).

Now Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria. And Assyria was, at this time, the dominant world power. You could say that they were the rulers of the world. And it just so happened that Assyria and Israel were mortal enemies at this time. Assyria was Israel’s hated enemy #1. They fought several wars. And, within fifty years of Jonah’s ministry, Assyria would invade Israel and pretty much destroy Israel as a nation.

So when God told Jonah to go to Nineveh He was, in effect, asking an Israelite to go into the very heart of the heathen enemy and, as an enemy of the Assyrians, give these heathens a threatening message from a foreign God. It was, in the natural, a life-shortening recipe for disaster and death. Without God’s intervention, the prophet would never make it out of Nineveh alive. He would never see Israel again. His life was as good as dead and done. So what do you think Jonah did? Like a lot of us today, Jonah disobeyed God and ran for his life (Jonah 1:3).

Like I said, if you’re a true child of God, God isn’t going to let you get away with disobedience. You can run from Him and hide from Him. But God knows exactly where you’re at, where you’re going, and what you’ve got planned up your sleeve. And God goes right to work, making sure your plans don’t succeed. This is where your life starts to fall apart and one thing after another goes wrong for you.

Jonah 1:4-17 details how fearsome and awful God can be when you mess with Him:  But the LORD made a strong wind blow, and such a bad storm came up that the ship was about to be broken to pieces.  (5)  The sailors were frightened, and they all started praying to their gods. They even threw the ship’s cargo overboard to make the ship lighter. All this time, Jonah was down below deck, sound asleep.  (6)  The ship’s captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep at a time like this? Get up and pray to your God! Maybe he will have pity on us and keep us from drowning.” 

(7)  Finally, the sailors got together and said, “Let’s ask our gods to show us who caused all this trouble.” It turned out to be Jonah.  (8)  They started asking him, “Are you the one who brought all this trouble on us? What business are you in? Where do you come from? What is your country? Who are your people?”  (9)  Jonah answered, “I’m a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  (10)  When the sailors heard this, they were frightened, because Jonah had already told them he was running from the LORD. Then they said, “Do you know what you have done?” 

(11)  The storm kept getting worse, until finally the sailors asked him, “What should we do with you to make the sea calm down?”  (12)  Jonah told them, “Throw me into the sea, and it will calm down. I’m the cause of this terrible storm.”  (13)  The sailors tried their best to row to the shore. But they could not do it, and the storm kept getting worse every minute.  (14)  So they prayed to the LORD, “Please don’t let us drown for taking this man’s life. Don’t hold us guilty for killing an innocent man. All of this happened because you wanted it to.” 

(15)  Then they threw Jonah overboard, and the sea calmed down.  (16)  The sailors were so terrified that they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made all kinds of promises.  (17)  The LORD sent a big fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

Well, Jonah was pretty set and stubborn about not doing what God wanted him to do. But suffering and chastisement have a way of changing a  guy’s  heart and making him whistle a different tune. Jonah gets swallowed by a whale or something really humongous. He should have died. But God miraculously kept him alive because He had a job for Jonah to do.

When Jonah saw how precarious his circumstances were the very first thing he did was pray (Jonah 2:1). In the midst of his sufferings and chastisement Jonah had a change of mind. He vowed that if God ever got him out of this fix he would obey Him, go to Nineveh, and preach to those heathen enemies of Israel (Jonah 2:9).

Jonah got things right with the Lord and, once he did,  God brought the suffering and chastisement to an end. The fish vomited Jonah out and the relieved prophet found himself on dry ground once again (Jonah 2:10).  

What was it that got Jonah to change his mind? What brought him to repentance and obedience? God’s chastisement.

Brethren, God’s out to change you. To change your heart, mind, affections and desires for sin. If you will not do that on your own, God will take over and force you, or get you, to change your mind about sin. How’s He going to do that? By chastising you and making you suffer quite miserably. Intolerably.

Do you have your mind bent on sin? Are you sure you want to disobey God and do things your own way? If so, then be ready to suffer for your selfish, sinful, stubborn mindset.  I guarantee you, like  Jonah,  it  won’t be pretty. You can be stubborn all you want right now. But I guarantee you, if you want to live you will eventually change your mind about sin and cry out to God for mercy, help, and salvation.

So do you find yourself in the whale’s belly right now? Is life falling apart for you? Like Jonah, turn back to God and pray. Apologize to Him and ask Him for forgiveness. Ask Him to give you a change of heart. To cleanse you and rid you of your sinful desires (1 John 1:9).

God still loves you! It may not seem like He does. But He still loves you. That’s why He’s made things miserable for you. But He doesn’t want you to be miserable for the rest of your life! He doesn’t want to kill you! He’s not against you! He just wants to teach you a lesson. If you learned your lesson, humble yourself and go penitently to God in prayer. I guarantee you you’ll feel better, you’ll find yourself standing on dry ground, and life will be sweet once again. God’s grace be upon you, dear friend, to abhor what’s evil and cling to what’s good and Godly.



THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS MEANT TO BE A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. Romans 8:29 tells us that we were predestinated—that is, long before we were even conceived or born, God chose us to be His children. And when He chose us to be His children He decided that we all should look like Christ. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Jesus, in essence, tells us the same thing in Matthew 10:24-25, The disciple is not above his master, neither the servant above his lord. {25} It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.

In other words, the Christian life is all about growing and becoming more and more like Christ. THE LONGER WE LIVE THE MORE WE SHOULD BECOME LIKE CHRIST.

God, brethren, doesn’t want us to be the same ole person we’ve always been. Several months or years from now we’re not supposed to be the same person that we are today. I pray that all of us here today can honestly say that many areas of our life have been changed in the years since we first became a Christian.

Chances are, however, there are still one, two, or a handful of areas in our Christian life that have defied change. I’m talking about the nagging habits, the addictions, weaknesses, flaws, imperfections, the sin that we’ve kept hidden in the deepest, darkest recesses of our heart, that have heretofore dodged our half-hearted efforts at self-remediation or improvement. Even after all these years, there are still some aspects of our mindset, personality, emotions, behavior, lifestyle, and conduct that have remained unchanged.

So how do we change something that we don’t want to change? We love the sin too much to give it up. And we’ve got no intention of giving it up.

If we will not change, God will force change upon us. He has to—we’ve forced Him to—because we’re His children and He’s not gonna let sin destroy and damn us. If we will not help ourselves, God will help us. It won’t be pleasant or pretty. It’s gonna involve a lot of pain and suffering. But it works. Suffering has a way of changing us. It changes our mind and gives us a different, truer perspective of things.

Let’s look at how sufferings changed a guy who was remarkably very much like you and me.


There are different reasons for suffering. One of these is the law of sowing and reaping.


Galatians 6:7-8 warns us, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. {8} For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

When you make the wrong decisions and do things that are wrong–you may not think you’re wrong, but you are in God’s sight; God is gonna let you suffer the natural consequences of your actions and decisions.

For example, if you decide to break into your neighbor’s house and steal a humongous diamond that they’ve hidden in a tin can; and you end up getting caught; then you going to jail isn’t God’s chastisement. It’s a matter of you doing time for the crime. It’s the law of sowing and reaping.

Now there are many different ways you can respond to your sufferings. You can get mad. Get bitter. Get even. Get delusional and proclaim your innocence. But none of these responses do you any good.

The only really good thing that can come out of your sufferings is if you choose to humble yourself, admit you’re wrong, and learn from your mistake. You can use your sufferings to change you and change your mind about sin.

Let’s look at how a young man who made a lot of terrible mistakes was able to turn his life around by profiting from his sufferings and doing the right thing. Generally speaking, YOUR LIFE AND YOUR LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES WON’T START TO CHANGE AND IMPROVE UNTIL YOU HEAD IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND START DOING THE RIGHT THING.


There once was a man who had two sons. The younger of these sons decided that he had had enough of the old homestead and farming as a way of life. He wanted to go out on his own, see the world, and get a taste of the good life that he felt he was missing by staying at home. So he went to his dad and asked for his share of the estate and inheritance (Luke 15:12).

Hebrews 11:25 tells us that the pleasures of sin are only for a season. They’re temporary and short lived. They don’t last forever.  The good times last as long as you’ve got money. And as long as you’re healthy enough to enjoy your sins. But when you run out of money, or when you get sick, you just can’t enjoy the pleasures of sin anymore—you’re too busy suffering and being miserable.

And that’s exactly what happened to the prodigal son. The bad times came and the young man was forced to live in a very different set of circumstances. He was basically worse off than he ever was, living at home.

Luke 15:13-16 chronicles the young man’s misfortunes:  A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.  (14)  About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.  (15)  He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.  (16)  The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.


And this is precisely what the young man’s misfortunes did for him. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! (18)  I will go home to my father and say, Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,  (19)  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant (Luke 15:17-19).

Of course, it takes a lot of humility and courage to admit you were wrong. You’re gonna have to swallow your pride, head back home, and apologize to your dad. But when you’re hungry and hurting, with no other options left; you do whatever you have to do to get out of your mess and return to some semblance of what your life used to be. The prodigal son had not only learned from his mistakes: he swallowed his pride, humbled himself, went home, and made things right with his dad.

Do you know what it was that brought this stubborn, selfish, self-willed, sin-loving man to his knees? Do you know what it took for him to wake up and do the right thing? The sufferings that he went through. THE LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING WILL CHANGE YOU FOR THE BETTER…IF YOU LET IT.

SUFFERING DRIVES US BACK TO GOD. It causes us to admit how so much we need God back in our life. We’re lost and undone without Christ. We can’t make it in life without Him.


Only God can give us life. Only He can fill our life with meaning, peace, joy, and fulfillment.

Unfortunately, we don’t know that—at least, we don’t admit or accept that—when we’re too gung ho on having our own sinful, selfish way.


So if you’re tired of suffering and want to be done with the heartaches and sufferings of sin, come back to God, get down on your knees, tell Him you’re sorry, and ask Him to forgive you. God’s waiting for you. You might think He’s mad at you and doesn’t want any part of you. But you’re so totally wrong! God sooo loves you still and He waiting for you to come back home to Him.

I pray these verses of Scripture will lead you back to God. Psalm 103:8-18 gives us a true picture of God’s heart and love for you. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  (9)  He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.  (10)  He does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.  (11)  For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.  (12)  He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.  (13)  The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.  (14)  For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.  (15)  Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.  (16)  The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here.  (17)  But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear Him. His salvation extends to the children’s children  (18)  of those who are faithful to His covenant, of those who obey His commandments!

God is a gracious, longsuffering God. He will hear you, forgive you, and receive you. He will bring the suffering to an end. And you will get your second chance to do things His way. Brethren, learn from your mistakes. Don’t suffer in vain! Let your sufferings do something good for you. Let them change you and make you a better Christian. God bless you mightily! See you at home.


Some people love challenges. They’ll look at something new. Something hard. And they’ll take up the challenge of doing it just to get the satisfaction or thrill of knowing they can do something they’ve never done before. Something hard. Challenging. Exhilirating.

Just so you know, I am not that way at all. I am 1,000,000,000,000% a comfort-zone type of guy. I like doing the doable. That means it’s easy and doesn’t demand a whole lot of  my time, effort, or thinking. When it comes to what’s new, difficult, or challenging, you can generally count me out, folks. I’m not touching it with a ten-foot pole! 

I won’t do the difficult—not unless I’m forced to—because life already has too many difficulties and challenges. I don’t need to  add to them. I don’t need any more trials or challenges!  I’m heading into my golden years and I love to relax, take it easy, and do what I love doing most. Can you guess what that is? It’s studying  the Bible and writing. I just love spending time with the Lord because He talks to me a lot of times—not audibly, but in my spirit—and He tells me lots of really neat stuff. Stuff that I’ve just got to share with you. This blog is a perfect example of the stuff God gives me when I spend time with Him. I love Him. I love what I’m doing. But I dread doing the difficult.

Here’s a question for you. When the Lord asks you to do something difficult…no, strike that. When the Lord tells you to do something difficult, something you really don’t want to do, something you think is impossible, something that’s a Are you out of your mind? I can’t do that! type of thing; what do you do?

Just so you know, you’re not the only one who’s had to do something really really hard. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there and done that. The biblical characters weren’t any different from us. In fact, they were exactly like us. Human. I’d like to draw on their life’s experiences and, from beyond the grave, as it were, let them share with us what we’ve got to do when the Lord gives us our Mission I M possible. By God’s grace, we can do what God’s counting on us to do! Here’s how.


Most of us are familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau. Jacob was a supplanter (Genesis 27:36). He was crafty and cunning. A cheat. And definitely deceptive. He got Esau to sell him his birthright for a bowl of pottage (Genesis 25:29-34). Then he tricked his dad into giving him the blessing of the firstborn that was meant for Esau (Genesis 27). The guy definitely had a knack for ripping his brother off! Esau was so incensed by his brother’s trickery that he determined to kill him. That’s when Jacob fled to Haran where his mother was from.

Fast forward about forty years. Jacob has amassed a humongous family with humongous flocks of sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, and oxen, with gobs of maids and servants to boot.  Jacob, you could say, had it all. Except home. He was missing home.  

One day, the Lord spoke to Jacob. It’s time to head back home (Genesis 31:3). Jacob couldn’t have been more relieved! He’d been wanting to leave Haran for years. Now, with God’s permission and blessings, Jacob could finally leave.

Of course, the down side of going home was Jacob would eventually have to face the wrath of his brother.  Had Esau cooled off by now? Or was he still intent on killing Jacob? Sure, Jacob was going home. But the joy of going home carried with it the very real likelihood that he was going home for his own funeral. Jacob was plump scared—not only for his own life, but for the lives of his wives and children. He was one very, very scared fellow!

So what do you do when you’re faced with a difficult, impossible task and you’re plump scared to do it? I mean, your life’s at stake. You could die doing it. Is it worth doing something that’s gonna end up killing you? Is God really the One who’s talking to you? Or is the devil leading you into a death trap? A thousand doubts and questions race through your mind. And your fear looms ever larger, ever stronger, beckoning you to back off.

God spoke to Jacob. There was no way Jacob could doubt that. He had to obey God! So, first things first, he packed up his stuff, got his flocks and family together, and headed out of Haran. The lesson? WHEN GOD TELLS YOU TO DO SOMETHING THAT YOU’RE PLUMP SCARED TO DO, START DOING IT ONE STEP AT A TIME.  God will help you. You’ll still have your fears. Jacob left Haran a scaredy-cat. He didn’t wait for fear to go before he obeyed God. He headed home still wracked with fear. But he still headed home! Friends, when God tells you to do something that you’re scared to do, start doing it!

Next, don’t ignore your fears. Face them. Deal with them. Get God to help you overcome them.

Let me backtrack momentarily and tell you something that I forgot to tell you earlier. When God told Jacob to head home He also assured Jacob that He would go with him (Genesis 31:3). God would make the journey with Jacob. And, when it came time for Jacob to meet up with Esau, God would be with him. But notice that even with God’s word and assurance, Jacob was still scared! It’s like God’s Word doesn’t do anything to allay or rid us of our fears. So what do we do when we’re scared? Like Jacob, we keep walking home.

Jacob comes to a place where he sees an encampment of angels (Genesis 32:1-2). He’s not imagining anything. He sees the angels with his own eyes! That’s God’s way of assuring him that everything’s gonna be alright. The angels are watching out for him! Is Jacob scared now? Amazingly, like so many of us, he’s still scared! But he doesn’t turn back! He keeps heading home.

Brethren, when you’re wracked with fear, keep on obeying God. Sometimes, His words and His angels—the signs He gives us—aren’t doing the trick. If you’re still scared, don’t count yourself down and out. Jacob had every reason not to fear. But he was still afraid! He was, in every way, just like you and me!

Getting closer to home, Jacob decides to do a smart thing and send a delegation ahead of him to let Esau know that he was coming (Genesis 32:4-6). The tip-off doesn’t go over too good. Esau heads out with four-hundred of his men to meet up with Jacob. It looks like the makings of war. Now Jacob was really, really, really scared!

He decides to try and pacify his brother’s wrath. He sends Esau three separate droves of flocks—over 550 animals—that he hopes will soften  Esau’s heart and avert bloodshed (Genesis 32:13-20).

He spends the night alone and ends up wrestling with an angel (Genesis 32:24-30). Now you would think that an angel would’ve had Jacob pinned down within two seconds of the first round. But Jacob’s filled with fear and adrenaline: he’s so afraid of Esau that he’s intent on getting a blessing from God. What’s really amazing beyond belief is Jacob wins the match! He fought, as it were, with God. And won!

Now if you fought with an angel and won, you would think that any fear you had would just evaporate into thin air. You’d be so pumped that, in vanquishing an angel you would’ve vanquished your fear. But even after beating God, Jacob is still scared! Like Jacob, there are times when it seems like some fears just can’t be conquered no matter what!

Do you know what Jacob does? Even though he’s scared out of his wits, he continues walking towards his fear! Friends, you can’t shirk or run from your fears! You’ve got to face them. And when it comes time to stand face to face with your fear, trust your life and well-being into God’s hands. GOD GAVE YOU A PROMISE OF HIS PRESENCE AND PROTECTION. AND HE’LL MAKE GOOD ON THAT PROMISE NO MATTER HOW AFRAID YOU ARE AND NO MATTER HOW BAD IT LOOKS FOR YOU. YOU’VE JUST GOT TO TRUST GOD, FACE YOUR FARS, AND NOT RUN!

You know how the story ends. Jacob didn’t know how it would end exactly. But to his  welcome relief, Esau came running up to him, hugged him, and kissed him. There they stood, for the longest time, in each other’s arms, crying. The hurts of the past were healed and forgiven.

Jacob did the hardest thing he’d ever done. He faced his fear. And even though his fear never left him—it stayed with him right up the very end; God was with Jacob, He did a work of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in Esau’s heart; and this manifest work and miracle of God put an end to Jacob’s fear.

So what do you do when God tells you to do something that’s very very hard for you to do? DON’T LET FEAR STOP YOU FROM OBEYING GOD. Face your fear. Obey God. And  when you’re tempted to run or turn back, listen to Jacob: YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU’RE AFRAID TO DO! GOD WILL NEVER TELL YOU TO DO SOMETHING YOU CAN’T DO! God will help you! But He’ll help you only while you’re obeying Him. Believe it or not, you’ll eventually quit being afraid. The fear will leave you. But only when you successfully complete your Mission I M possible.


To get answers to prayer (1) there are things God wants us to do BEFORE we pray; (2) there are things God wants us to do WHEN we pray; and (3) there are things God wants us to do AFTER we pray.

We’re looking at the things God wants us to do BEFORE we pray. We said IF YOU WANT GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS YOU’VE GOT TO BE RIGHT. There are five aspects of being right: (1) being right with God; (2) being right with people; (3) being right yourself; (4) asking for the right things; and now (5) asking for the right reason.


There’s more to answered prayer than just asking for the right things or asking in accordance with God’s will. What you’ve also got to consider is, What’s the motive of my heart? What’s motivating me to ask what I’m asking for? You see, IT’S POSSIBLE TO ASK FOR THE RIGHT THINGS AND STILL NOT GET YOUR PRAYER ANSWERED. Why is that? Because you’re asking for the wrong reason.

Psalm 66:18 tells us, If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. To regard simply means to look upon or consider. If you’ve got sin in mind—if you’re planning to commit sin or would like to commit sin—you may as well forget about praying because God isn’t going to hear you. Friends, GOD ISN’T GOING TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYER WHEN YOU’VE GOT SINFUL MOTIVES AND INTENTS.

James 4:3 tells us the same thing: Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss [with evil or wicked intent], that ye may consume it upon your lusts. In other words, you’re planning to use God’s answer to prayer to commit sin.

THE MOTIVES AND INTENTS OF YOUR HEART HAVE A LOT TO DO WITH WHETHER OR NOT GOD IS GOING TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYER. If your motive isn’t pure or right, your prayer isn’t going to be answered.

Sometimes our motives aren’t necessarily sinful. We’re just too preoccupied with ourself, our needs, our desires, that we leave God out of the picture.

Do you know why God promised to answer our prayers? It’s so that He can be glorified. John 14:13-14 tells us in no unmistakable terms, And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  (14)  If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.


So before you ask God for whatever it is you’re asking, ask yourself these questions: Am I asking just for myself? Or am I asking so that God can be glorified? Will God be glorified if He answers my prayer? Will I glorify God after He’s answered my prayer? 

When you don’t testify of God’s goodness and faithfulness after He’s answered your prayer you’re robbing God of the glory that He rightfully deserves. So whenever you ask God for something be willing and prepared to thank Him and give a testimony of God’s wondrous works.

Look again at what James say in James 4:3, Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

ANSWERED PRAYER ISN’T JUST ALL ABOUT MOTIVES: IT’S ALSO ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT THE ANSWER WILL HAVE UPON YOU. If you’re going to use the answer to support a fleshly, sinful habit or lifestyle; if the answer is going to take you farther away from God; God isn’t going to answer you. He’s not going to do, or give you, something that will have a detrimental impact on your life and imperil your soul. The devil will. But not God.



If you’re not right with God, or not right with someone, or not righteous right now because you’ve sinned or you’re in disobedience to God; if you’re not asking for the right thing or for the right reason; then, before you go to God in prayer you’ve got to get things right with God. How do you do that?

  • Repent and ask God to forgive you—that’s one prayer that the Lord will hear. After you’ve asked God to forgive you, get things right with Him by doing whatever it is He’s been wanting you to do.
  •  If you’re having problems with someone, get things right with that person. Ask him or her for forgiveness. If restitution is involved, pay up or make it right. Reconcile if possible. If the other person isn’t ready for reconciliation, then make sure that you’re not harboring any bitterness, resentment, or unforgiveness towards that person. 
  • Check your heart. Get rid of any wrong motives you may have.
  •  Make sure you’re asking for something’s that’s right. If what you’re wanting is wrong, then don’t bother asking God because you’re wasting your time. If you’re asking for something’s that right, ask the Lord if it’s His will for you to have it right now or anytime soon. God will let you know.

Having said that, there are times when you just don’t know what God’s will is at the present time. If that’s the case, then, pray in the Spirit. The Spirit knows exactly what God’s will is in the matter. When you pray in the Spirit, the Spirit petitions the Father on your behalf.

When you don’t know what God’s will is, you can also pray, if it be thy will. Ask God for what you want. Then end your prayer with, nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. 

Now when you pray this way—whether for yourself or for someone else; be prepared to accept the outcome. You may not get the answer you wanted. Or you may get the answer you wanted, but not in the time you wanted it. In any case, since you’ve resigned your will to God’s will and are willing to let God’s will be done; then be prepared to accept whatever answer God gives you.

Coming Up On My Next Post In This Series, we’ll begin looking at some of the things God wants us to do when we pray. The Scriptures have so much to teach us and I’m excited about what we’ve learned so far and will continue to learn. Drop by for a visit and let God show you how He wants you to pray. Until then, walk with God and may He fill your life with His love and blessings.




Everything that I believe and do in life stems from my basic belief concerning God. It’s this. God is Real. He’s Alive. He’s True. His Word, the Holy Bible, is true. And God is true to His Word. It’s an act of faith on my part. I know that. And I’m cool with it.

If I end up being wrong, what have I lost? Believing what I believe has made me a better person, it’s given me a meaninful, purposeful life,  and I don’t regret that for one minute. Make that a nanosecond.

When it comes to the sins and pleasures of the world and body, really, seriously, what have I missed? I’ve never known a boozer, druggie, junkie, or erotomaniac who enjoyed living, who enjoyed life. They were miserable and diseased. They hated themselves. Hated what they were doing and how they were living. Lots of them died an early death or ended up killing themselves.


Can a person who doesn’t believe in God live life with meaning and purpose? Can they be truly happy and self-fulfilled. Can they be good people? Of course they can! In a way, I’m happy for them because I begrudge no one their happiness. I’d rather see people happy than miserable. But, believing what I believe, I also feel very sorry for them because no matter how happy you are in life, A LIFE LIVED WITHOUT GOD WILL END UP IN A LIFE LIVED WITHOUT GOD.  I’m talking about eternity and Hell. Speaking of which…

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you really wanted to tell someone off, but lacked the courage to do it personally to his face? Of course you have. We’ve all been there. We went on and on about the miserable dog behind his back. But we wouldn’t  act or talk that way in front of him. Why? Because we lacked the guts to do that. We were also afraid of what he’d do to us, or say to us, if we told him off.

Here’s a second scenario. Have you ever been so convinced of something that you were willing to go to the top, go to Heaven or Hell, as it were, to argue your case? You did that. You went to the boss. You argued and debated with your best friend, your worst enemy, your most ardent critic. You gave it your best shot, confident you’d win the argument or case. And what happened? To your total shock and surprise, you were shot down! Turned out, they had a better argument than you did. They had the kind of convincing data, proofs, evidence, and smarts that proved you wrong. You couldn’t believe it! You were wrong in spite of the fact you believed you were totally right. And, having been proven wrong, you were so totally humiliated! We’ve been there too. All of us have. And it definitely was one of those times in life that we’d just as soon forget.

In either scenario, this is what’s gonna happen to us when we stand (I’d probly be kneeling) before God the Judge. The Bible says every knee will bow to Me and every tongue will acknowledge that I am God (Romans 14:11). Every means everyone. You and me included. It doesn’t matter whether we believe in God or not. God says there’s a time coming when every single one of us will get on our knees before God and acknowledge the truth, so long denied by many, that there is a God and they’ll actually get to meet Him. You can choose to stand. You can dare God to His face and stand. You can say that now. But when you actually get there, you will kneel. And you will say the words you’ve refused to say all along: There is a God. And you, God, are God. It’s gonna happen. How do I know that? Because God said it’s gonna happen and I believe Him. I believe Him more than I believe you or anyone else. He never lies. He’s never wrong. Why in the world would I believe a fellow–no matter how smart, convincing, or well-meaning–who’s prone to lying and being wrong?

Let me switch scenes here for a moment. Matthew 7:21-23 gives us a sobering picture of what lots of people are gonna be faced with when they get before the Judge: Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter.  (22)  On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’  (23)  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’

In a similar scene, Matthew 25 tells us that all the peoples of the earth will be brought before the Judge and He’s gonna divide the good folks from the bad. To the bad, here’s what He says: Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.  (42)  For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give Me a drink.  (43)  I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit Me.  (44)  Then they will reply, Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?  (45)  And He will answer, I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.  (46)  And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life (Matthew 25:41-46).

So what’s my point? Remember those times when your boss, friend, or critic shot you down because you were wrong even though you believed you were right? When you’re wrong God’s gonna do the same thing with you and shoot you down because He’s right. HE’S ALWAYS RIGHT. When we present our defense to the Judge we can say whatever we want to say. We can make our case. Prove our point. Like all those times we thought we had an air-tight case, but didn’t; God’s gonna shoot us down if He’s got the convincing, damning proof against us. If it exists, He’ll have it! And He’ll use it against us. God’s gonna have the last word and our arguments aren’t going to win the case! That’s just the way it is and no one, but no one, is gonna fool the Judge.

What am I saying in all this? What happens now in this lifetime, here on earth, will also, and eventually, happen when we’re brought before the Judge. I honestly can’t look God in the face and tell Him He’s wrong. I can’t say that to His face and that’s why I don’t say it here on earth. Why? Because He’s not wrong. He’s never wrong.  You guys can say whatever you want to say about God now. I guarantee—okay, I believe—you’ll be whistling a very different tune when you actually get to meet Him.

I can try and argue my way into Heaven; fudge or finagle the facts; twist the truth just a bit. But THE JUDGE’S NO FOOL. THERE AIN’T ANYONE GONNA FOOL THE JUDGE! It won’t work when I stand before Him and that’s why I don’t try and do that  here on earth. A knowledge—okay, a belief—in what’s gonna happen on the day of judgment is what keeps me acting and living the way I do right now here on earth. It’s a good way to live. A good way to die. And a good way to be judged.

THE PRESENT AFFECTS THE FUTURE: what I do now, or how I live now, affects what happens to me in the future when I meet God. But, just as importantly, THE FUTURE AFFECTS THE PRESENT: what I know will happen when I meet God is the reason why I live the way I do today. It’s a good way to live and I wholeheartedly recommend it to you.

« Older entries Newer entries »