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“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

I believe that God is good all the time.

He is not the author of suffering and pain.

But life involves life and pain and problems and stretching.

This is normal, natural.

We live in a fallen world and are targets to a ruthless enemy.

But in that, even in that, God is good and is always at work to restore and bring goodness out of the difficult seasons.

He has a solution for every problem (but, how many times do we not like His suggested solutions!)

He does not abandon us to the darkness but walks with us, in every moment.

What the enemy means for our destruction, God uses for our growth.

If you are walking through a difficult season here are 3 things to encourage you:

1. Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

This is good news for us.  When we walk through trial, God is with us.  When we walk through darkness, God is with us.  When we walk through pain, God is with us.  When we walk through flood, God is with us.  When we walk through fire, God is with us.

His presence protects us so we are not overwhelmed or scorched.

But yes, we have to walk through those waters and the fire.

2.  Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

This is good news and good truth.  This is real truth.  Often when in the dark spaces of our life we can think that some of the Word of God is just nice cliche or lovely platitudes, but it is real truth.  You can stake your life on it.  You can count on it.

 

3.  Psalm 121 – I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Sometimes in the dark seasons we have to CHOOSE to look up and see the stars.  We have to CHOOSE to have faith.  We have to CHOOSE to trust God and believe His promises.

 

I can tell you from experience that I isnt easy.  But worth it.

 

How do you see the stars in the dark times?

 

 

 

 

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NOTHING IS WASTED

Pain can push you away from God, away from people and into the darkness even more.

But God wants your pain to push you towards Him, towards people and into the light.

Pain can have a purpose.  Nothing is wasted with God.  He turns the greatest darkness into opportunities for the light to shine.  His promise in Romans 8 is that He will turn all circumstances for good.

Here are 4 things to do when living through painful situations.

1. Draw close To God: position yourself for hearing

When Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead – Jesus spoke and Lazarus heard. And his whole world, his whole life changed!

Are you making time for God to speak? Are you listening? Purposefully tuning yourself in to hear. Right now, where you sit, no matter where that is, there are radio waves all around us – if we had a radio we could tune in and hear a cricket commentary, some pop music or someone talking politics. But we don’t have a radio so we’re not tuned into the frequency. Same with God. We have to put up our spiritual antenna and tune in.

John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

When living through pain its important to be intentional about carving out some time to hear God.  His promise is the anchor to keep us still in the storm.  His words give us peace.  His truth silences the lies that try to magnify the pain, unleashing it to do its worst.

2. Draw Close To God: Remind yourselves of the promises of God.

So many times the Israelites got in trouble because they FORGOT about the great things of God. They forgot about His promises. Case in point. God promises the Israelites to deliver them from Egypt and settle them in the promised land. He does signs and wonders and soooo reveals Himself and then boom. They forget. They freak out. They get fearful and insecure and faith-less. And so they have to wander another 40 years in the desert and die.

When my husband was made redundant the 2nd time – about 6 years ago I made a conscious choice to draw near to God. Everything within me was stressing out but I knew that how we walked through this would be watched by our housegroup and our families.  We wanted our lives and the way we lived them to be a reflection of the reality of God.

We reminded ourselves that God is good and faithful and our provider. I lay on the sofa in the lounge and put on worship music and cranked it up loud. The song “You are good” came on and it did something on the inside of me.

Rick Warren says worship reinforces what matters most, reminds us of truths we forget and renews our desire to live what we believe.

When you draw close to God you position yourself to hear from Him and to see life from His vantage point and to remind ourselves of His reality, His goodness and His greatness.

3. Draw Close to People: Get good people around you when the going gets tough.

In fact get good people around you NOW so that when it gets tough you’re not having to pick new friends. Job’s wife was not a good friend. She told him to curse God and die. Seriously woman! Get good people in your life now – get into a housegroup, make intentional opportunities for friendship. Paul had good people in his life, when he and Silas got thrown into prison they turned it into a revival meeting. That couldn’t of happened if Silas was like “Paul shut up, you’re out of tune, we’re in a prison, what good is this, no one can hear us, this isn’t the XFactor, we’re gonna die!” They were brothers of the same Father and encouraged each other to draw close to God despite their location and circumstances.

When living through pain surround yourself with people who will encourage you, pray for you, support you.

4. Draw Close to People: Be real.

Often when the going gets tough people say “how are you?” and we’re like “fine mate, sweet as” and inside we’re crushed and disappointed and it feels like someone has rolled that stone over our tomb. When Jesus came both Mary and Martha told Him how it was. They were real with Him. They were vulnerable. They let people in. Now I’m not suggesting we all go and choose our “im feeling emotiocom” on facebook to say I’m feeling like the sky is falling, but again, don’t be afraid to live out your story on the stage of your life. Your mess becomes a message. Your test becomes a testimony.

Pain has a purpose – to grow us, to strengthen us, to teach us.

How we respond is up to us.

Will you embrace the potential of pain and draw near to God and near to the right people?

What helps you get through painful situations?

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Could it be true that there is a group of people keeping you from success? I can assure you that it’s true. Now, you may be thinking that I’m referring to your competition, your spouse, or maybe even your parents. Hang on to your seat because the only person I’m actually referring to is YOU.

Seriously, put some thought into this, you hold yourself back in all areas of your life and business. You do this in multiple ways which is why it’s like there’s a small army against you.

Here’s who is holding you back: (go read it!)

So, how do you deal with rejection?

Feel the disappointment all the way down to the ground. Get mad. Feel hurt. Voice how disappointed you are to friends that can listen. Don’t try to pretend it didn’t matter that much, or that your hopes weren’t really that high. Let your hopes rise, and let them crash….

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For a few years running I could’ve been nominated for Miserable Person of the Year.

Really, I had a stellar campaign going.  I was bitter. Frustrated. Angry at God, man and myself. My life wasn’t turning out to be the success-fest like I’d planned and somebody, everybody was to blame. But it didn’t take long to realize that being miserable all the time, funnily enough, is a miserable way to live.

Now after years of studying, writing and researching, here are what I believe are the seven habits of highly miserable people and how we cure each one:

1. Living as a Lone Ranger
2. Complain-ism
3. Having a Crazy Timeline
4. Obsessive Comparison Disorder

5. Waiting for Someone to Show You How

6. Failing at Failure

7. Becoming Comfortable with Crappy

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Storms provide the United States over 50 percent of their rainfall, distributing water to plants, lakes, and reservoirs.

Winds from storms create life by distributing seeds and pollen while removing old and weak vegetation to make room for new growth.

When lightning strikes, it actually liberates nitrates that help fertilize the soil. Storm updrafts remove large amounts of pollution, while storm rainfall washes more pollution out of the air.

Storms don’t just destroy. They heal.

Dry spells are the instrument of God, for your good. Yes, it is true in such times, your five senses have been deprived and all outward progress of outward piety ends. Know this; In such times you are either going to leave off prayer and perhaps even a large part of your Christian walk, or you will be drive to a comfort which has nothing to do with the outward sense.” Molinos from 100 Days In The Secret Place (by Gene Edwards)

Currently in New Zealand we are experiencing one of our hottest summers in record.  Last week, as we flew over Blenheim, the contrast of the lush greenness of the well kept vineyards and the barren dryness of the surrounding hills was extreme. They need rain.

The earth is not the only place where things can be dry.  We experience seasons where we struggle, where we falter, where we doubt, where we feel dry.

In these dry places we learn to persevere and to draw near to God regardless of how we feel and what we sense. In this time God is still at work, even more so I would think, as He develops strength of character and hunger for Him. We learn to pray in new ways, to seek after God and to in that action to hold onto our faith and beliefs. We may even find our beliefs and faith changing as things that are built on works and feelings and comfortability fall away. We may discover that we do know in our deepest parts that God does love me and knows me and forgives me – despite all our failings and unworthiness.

In a dry spell the greatest watering and growth can occur.

Even if we know nothing else we can have hope in WHO God Is.   God is God, the God of mercy and compassion, love and peace, grace and hope, Jehovah our Provider, Jehovah our Healer, Jehovah our Breakthrough.  He is the same today, yesterday and will be tomorrow. He will never leave or depart us, never abandon us. Our names are written on the palm of his hand, and there are nail scars to reinforce the point.

On the Cross Jesus said I THIRST.  The maker of heaven and earth, the Lord of Lords, the one who gives living water so we will never thirst again, thirsted.

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Even Now

Martha says an interesting thing to Jesus when he arrives after her brothers death : ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’

Martha “even now you can do impossible things” – that phrase even now speaks with faith despite circumstances. Even now despite what is going on, Jesus you can move and work and redeem and rescue.

Even now God can heal your family relationships

Even now God can change your life

Even now God can provide

Even now God can heal

Even now God can set you free from fear, insecurity, shame, doubt

Jesus can bring life to hopeless situations we’ve given up on as dead

Jesus resurrects people that feel dead on the inside and makes them alive with second chances

Jesus can resurrect dreams that have been killed by discouragement and disappointment

Jesus can speak life into your failing relationship and bring hope where it is hopeless

Nothing is impossible for God – No one is impossible for God. Your husband is not impossible for God. Your wife is not impossible for God. Your parents are not impossible for God. Your kids are not impossible for God.

God’s delays are not His denials – that IS that Lazarus was in was such an important part of “his life” and what God was doing.

 

What is your even now moment?

 

Revelation 1:8 says “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Often we get that God is in the past doing amazing things. We have a whole book that is a record of God’s power and might. And we know that in the future – in eternity – in heaven – God will be mighty and amazing and we’ll we so blown away when we see Him. But now. The IS. Often in the IS we forget that Jesus is the same yesterday, tomorrow and today.

Now.

Here.

Today.

Lazarus’ IS, his reality, his now, was that Lazarus is dead.

What does your IS say today?

Even in your IS God is God. He is not just the God of yesterday or the God of tomorrow but He is God today!

And do you want to know the most amazing thing about Lazarus’ IS?

In his IS he heard the voice of Jesus calling him, by name, to come out.

Lazarus heard Jesus calling his name.

In case I need to spell it out or you haven’t connected the dots. Lazarus is dead. He was dead and he heard God speaking.

Those things in your life that are dead and impossible – God can speak life to them – He can call you out of them. He sees you in those moments.

Jesus calls out to those dead places of our lives, our dead hopes, our dead dreams, our dead relationship circumstances and says “come out”

No matter what your NOW is.

No matter what your TODAY looks like.

No matter how bad your IS is.

No matter how dead you feel, no matter how big your obstacle is – jesus is the resurrection and the life

I am the resurrection and the life ~ jesus.

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“The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His. It is His movie, His world, His gift.”  — Francis Chan

 

Sometimes God is doing something in your life for others to see.  Your life is part of a greater story that He is weaving, a bigger picture.  Sometimes the things that are happening in our life are not just for our own living and experience but for those around us.  God uses our lives to demonstrate His reality and grace.  

We are called to know Him and make Him known.

Jesus said to his disciples Lazarus is dead and for your sake I am glad so that you may believe.

At the tomb entrance Jesus prayed I have said this for the benefit of the people standing here, so that they may believe you sent me””

In the prison where Paul and Silas were chained and singing – the other prisoners were listening.  Paul and Silas’ captivity just wasnt about them but it was part of the bigger picture.

 

So what does this say about God?

It says that God is at work in all circumstances of my life. It says that He knows that is going on and that He is the master author of the story of my life. He is big enough to know all the plot twists.

 

Isaiah 55 says For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.

 

God is good. All the time. We say that, almost as a catch phrase. Nike, just do it. 30 seconds spray and walk away. Bazinga. May the force be with you. God is good. All the time.

But it’s not just a catch phrase. There is a reality there that sometimes we dismiss. Sometimes our heart says God is good when life is good. Full stop.  We dont allow the phrase to stretch over into other, more painful areas, of our life.

I was reading in Job the other night – and we know Job’s catch phrase – Though he slay me, I will trust Him” (job 13:15) – and in job 1 I was blown away again by Job’s response and real life action w hen he heard his sheep were dead, his camels were dead, his kids were dead etc

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I shall depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.’

We often colour God with the same crayolas humanity are coloured in. People have bad intentions. People have grumpy pmt days. People mess with ya. People vomit their own negative emotions over you. Their motivations are squewed and they’re living for number one.

But God is good, all the time. He doesn’t have bad intentions. He doesn’t have bad hair days. His motivations are correct. He isn’t messing with your life. Everything He does is filled with goodness. Everything He does comes from a heart of goodness. Everything He does is right. God does nothing by accident. He is an on purpose God.

 

 

What does this say about me?

“You’re either going to live your life defined by what you go through or by Who you belong to.” @Stevenfurtick

 

Jesus said in this life you WILL have trouble, but trouble does not need to define you or discourage you. You can rise because Jesus is risen. You can have hope because God is faithful to His promises. You can be joyous because God is at work. You can have peace because God gives peace despite what is going on around us.

My choice is to say YES to God and to believe. 

Those dark days may be the most richest, character forming, life changing of your life. They certainly were for Lazarus, for his sisters, for his community, for the disciples.

Jesus did something remarkable through Lazarus’ life and death that was on centre stage for everyone to see.  Lazarus’ death and then resurrection were for all to see.  They were part of a greater story that God was weaving.

 

What is God doing in your life? What does He want to demonstrate to the world around you? What is the big picture?

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Are You Going Through Hell Right Now?

My year hasn’t exactly gone as planned. The company I founded,These Numbers Have Faces, went through stages of great growth last year, but the maintenance of it all has been really challenging.

For months I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. Anxiety has come roaring back into my life and all the while, there are hundreds of talented students on the waiting list to join our programs in Africa.

To top it off, my wife and I are expecting our first child in only a few weeks time. We’re thrilled of course, but the future is downright scary.

Worry, fear, dread, regret.

We’ve all been there.

 

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Knowing What You Want Will Keep You From Making Bad DecisionsDonald Miller

Ever wonder why Joseph didn’t sleep with Potiphar’s wife? He certainly could have. She came on to him often, and finally got so tired of his rejections that she lied and said he tried to rape her. Joseph ended up in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

But what gave Joseph the strength to not give in to temptation?

First, Joseph knew what was his and what wasn’t, and Potiphar’s wife was not his, and Joseph had a great deal of respect for Potiphar. Second, and second is important, Joseph knew his own destiny.

He’d been told in a dream he would become a powerful man. And that was beginning to happen in Joseph’s life. Joseph ran all of Potiphar’s affairs. He may not have known it then, but he was in training to run all of Egypt.

One of the most important elements of story has to do with what the main character wants. Does he want the girl? Does the football team want to win the state championship? If we don’t know what the main character wants, the story is boring and dull and it’s torture to sit through.

The same is true for a human life.

 

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Why You Should Flush 90% of Your To-Do List Down the ToiletMichael Hyatt 

“There are far more activities and opportunities in the world than we have time and resources to invest in,” McKeown says. “And although many of them may be good, or even very good, the fact is that most are trivial and few are vital.”

That’s the crucial difference between blessing and burden. We can fill our time with very good things and end up saddled, straddled, and stressed. That’s because good things might still be trivial.

As McKeown shows, Essentialism is a lifestyle focused on discerning the difference between the “many trivial” and the “vital few.” Essentialists are committed to the vital few in every circumstance they can manage.

The benefits include not only lower stress, but the satisfaction of developing real excellence and making a vital contribution through our callings.

 

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Why marriage is hardTyler Ward 

I broke up with my wife twice while we were dating. That often comes as a shock to those close to us, particularly because they can’t figure out why she dated me in the first place. I can’t either.

She was everything I wanted—everything I had dreamed of in a woman. Electric personality. Exotically gorgeous. Well-travelled. The uncanny ability to light up a room. A faith that was real and seasoned. The strength of conversation (she kept it going so I didn’t have to). The list went on, and as it did, I became more and more convinced I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life waking up next to her.

Yet, even then, I broke it off twice. Why? (I feel two-thirds embarrassed and one-third extremely embarrassed to admit this)

Because it wasn’t easy.

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Why You Need a Sabbath – Relevant

Whether we are in school, raising a family, in the midst of our career or balancing a combination of these, we have been given many opportunities for stewardship.

For those unfamiliar with church speak, or who haven’t had the jargon explained to them, stewardship means a responsibility for another’s property. This makes sense when we realize that everything we have has been given to us by God. He wants us to use these gifts and do great things with them.

Time is one of those gifts. Discipline, diligence and excellence are ways in which we use his “property” to please Him. Being a good steward, though, means also doing something seemingly counter-productive with our time. We must rest.

Moths

"Here’s the dangerous thing about Jesus: He’s not after your behaviour; he’s after your heart. Make no mistake about it. Jesus is going to relentlessly and passionately pursue your heart. Even when your behaviour tricks everybody else, it just doesn’t trick Jesus. He’s coming after the heart." ~ Perry Noble

 

 

 

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

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1000 Things

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