“He knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure gold.
For I have stayed on God’s paths;
I have followed his ways and not turned aside.
I have not departed from his commands,
But have treasured his words more than daily food.”
If you’ve ever had any exposure to the book of Job or heard any part his life’s journey, you would probably agree that he came to know a great deal about suffering, loss, tragedy, pain, and hardship in his life – none of which he brought upon himself. The Lord allowed Satan to touch parts of Job’s life but would not actually allow him to take his life. We know from scripture that Job was a faithful follower of God – loving and obedient, desiring to live his life in every way pleasing to the Lord. Therefore, there was no evidence for the calamities that came upon his life as was assumed from the standpoint of bystanders looking on as these events unfolded. According to their viewpoint, and to add insult to injury, Job must have done something wrong to deserve all of this. Yet, Job remained steadfast, pure, and a faithful follower of his Lord as he understood that God had complete knowledge of his journey regardless of its difficulty.
In his troubles, Job also had a conscious decision to make in his mind, heart, and soul. Would he choose in humility to walk the “Narrow road of Brokenness” or in pride and resentment, “The Broad Road to Bitterness.” The Narrow Road of Brokenness called him to place his trust fully in the fact that his life was in God’s hands regardless of his immediate circumstances. The opposing Road to Bitterness that many travel when faced with life’s difficulties, can breed a heart filled with bitterness toward God and others when life’s circumstances take an unexpected turn. When suffering, pain, and hardship become an unwelcomed guest there is a temptation to turn away from God and His truth, rather than turning to the Lord for His offer of help, comfort, strength, and hope.
Along life’s journey when we’re faced with unexpected events, life altering circumstances, or even tragedy – God desires the genuine brokenness of our spirit as we come to Him as His beloved children holy and dearly loved. In Psalm 51:17 we are reminded of how much emphasis God places on a broken spirit, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” If we have a desire to continually grow closer to Christ, even in our most difficult seasons of life, it will be through the brokenness and humility that comes through complete surrender of every area of our lives to Him. This requires us to relinquish control and take small steps of obedience on that Narrow Path of Brokenness toward God daily.
Father, today I praise You because I was fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) in Your image for a personal relationship with you. I am reminded that You know the number of my days (Psalm 139:16) and that my times are in Your hands (Psalm 31:15) regardless of the daily challenges I encounter. Help me to remain on the Narrow Road of Brokenness that draws me ever closer to You especially when I am faced with the difficulties and trials of this life. Remind me of Your truth and promises during those times and strengthen me with the presence of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
1This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. Jeremiah 18:1-6
There are times, seasons, and circumstances of our lives when all we can see are “Broken Pieces” from our point of view which can cause us to begin to lose sight of God, His promises, and the hope we have in Christ. We can literally feel like broken vessels, unusable – simply living from day to day, trying to survive the next storm of life, resulting in an “existence mentality” that doesn’t thrive on hope, but goes through the minimal motions of life. If we’re honest, like it or not, these are the places we find ourselves at times when unexpected seasons of trials, pain, or hardship settle in for an extended stay, interrupting what seemed to be positive forward progress in our journey.
If you’ve had an experience like the one described above you’re in good company with many others like you, who will read this and say, “I can relate.” One of the most difficult parts of this journey is when all you can see are those Broken Pieces of life and your hope seems to be at a low point. You wonder where God is in all of this, or if He can even put all of those pieces back together into something that resembles someone even close to being filled with hope and useful to Him again. In order to answer this question, we must walk down to the Potter’s House with the Prophet Jeremiah and witness an object lesson in how God is able to take the Broken Pieces of our lives and reshape us into what He desires us to be, regardless of the painfulness and hardship we experience or the shape we appear to be in along this journey called life. “3So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand...”
Today, remember that regardless of the level to which you feel marred or broken, God has you in the hollow of His hands, and He is still the Master Potter, molding and shaping your life as it seems best to him. Many times this can be a strenuous, fiery, painful process – yet if we’re patient in waiting on the Lord we will find it to be for our ultimate good, for His ultimate glory and purposes, and for the benefit of others around us. God can use our Broken Pieces.
Father, I thank You today for Your infinite knowledge of my life especially in times when what I see appear to be broken pieces. You are the Master Potter and the One who knows what is best for me as You seek to mold and shape my life for Your good purposes and for Your glory. Empower me through Your Spirit to surrender every area of my life to You, especially those areas that seem broken and need to be reshaped by You, my heavenly Father. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
You will often recognize the principle of “inviting God into our circumstances” included in many of the devotions I write. This spiritual discipline and practice of prayer, involving God in the daily circumstances of our lives is essential, not only in the ordinary happenings of life all around us, but especially in the midst of the spiritual battles we encounter more often than we realize. Both knowing and speaking the truth of God into our circumstances is our greatest offensive weapon which the Apostle Paul referred to as “the Sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God.” Armed with the Gospel of Peace in our souls (our salvation in Christ) and God’s truth and promises in our hearts, we are able to speak light into darkness, and dispel the lies of our enemies.
However, we often struggle with the promise that God is with us in the moment by moment circumstances of life with the same power with which He resurrected our Savior, Jesus Christ from the dead. We tend to more easily trust Him with our sense of eternal security, but find less comfort and peace in Him during what Paul calls our “momentary troubles.” Addressing this issue in his book The Full Armor of God: Defending Your Life from Satan’s Schemes, Larry Richards comments, ‘Paul is very aware of our human frailty. He knows how hard it is for us to trust God for today. Oh, we rely on Jesus to bring us safely to heaven. But somehow it seems more difficult to have confidence that He (the Lord) is here, totally involved in our lives right now…Satan and his demons can cast their fiery arrows, but there is no circumstance that can cut us off from God’s love or make God’s love for us ineffective.’
Some of the most devastating and fiery arrows of our enemy and his dark forces are the “accusations of past sins” which cause us unmerited guilt and shame, because once those sins were confessed to God, they were immediately forgiven (1 John 1:9) and also “cast as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12) - God remembers them no more. However, we can be made to feel isolated, separated, unforgiven, unloved, and unusable by God because of these “false accusations” believing somehow we remain unfit to be used for the glory, purposes, and will of our heavenly Father. This is certainly one of the great lies of our enemy used to render us paralyzed with fear, anxiety, panic, even prolonged depression – with little if any hope to hold onto.
Therefore, Paul reminds us in Romans 8, first using an emphatic “NO”, saying, “No, in all these things (in daily life, in family, in marriage, in parenting, in work, in ministering and caring for others) we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” and continues to love us unconditionally, moment by moment, day by day. Paul closes this passage with a most powerful truth of assurance for us as we arm ourselves with truth for each daily battle. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We are empowered by the truth and promises of God to persevere, even in times of hardship, trials, testing, and when we feel persecuted by enemies from within or without. But God, has set us apart through Jesus Christ to walk in His victory with simple steps of daily obedience, taking with us and holding onto His promises, that He will never leave us or forsake us. He will never stop loving us, and He has specific plans for each of our lives that cannot be thwarted by Satan, his powers of darkness, nor anyone on this earth who is influenced by them. We are free in Christ to walk in His power and bring glory and honor to Him.
Father, I thank you on this day for arming me with Your truth for the battle. Your promises are the greatest source of power, strength, and hope in my life moment by moment for this day's journey. If I experience moments of doubt, fear, or heaviness, may the truth of Your word and Your Spirit breathe life back into my soul enabling me to press on setting my gaze on You. Thank You that nothing can ever separate me from the love You have poured over me through Jesus my Savior. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
7Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
There are often moments along The Journey that our thoughts, feelings, circumstances, or our enemy (the devil) would have us believe that we are beyond the reach of God, even if but just for a time. For a believer, feeling out of the reach of the Savior, can be a place of loneliness and despair, a place where hope fades and the light of life grows dim. Their foundation of purpose, identity, and sense of being loved becomes fractured with doubts, fears, and anxieties of the future. There are more of us who have such experiences than we realize – the fact is we’ve just become really good at hiding these realities when we approach a friend, walk through the doors of the church, or are in a public place. However, the Psalmist David never denied us insight into his life as God allowed the curtain to be “pulled back” as he penned these scriptures regarding The Comfort of God’s Spirit.
David is essentially proclaiming the truth that The Comfort of God’s Spirit Knows No Boundaries as he writes, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Basically, David understands that anywhere he is, there God will be and already is, because He is omnipresent (God is present everywhere all the time). David’s concluding words are the most comforting in that wherever he finds himself, in whatever situation or circumstance, he says of the Lord, “even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” This statement reminds me of a children’s Bible story I learned very early on in life which still holds true today – God has the whole world in His hand; He holds you and me by His Spirit in the hollow of His hand, and He will never let us go, nor can we be apart from Him because He is always right beside us. God’s Spirit brings comfort, strength, wisdom, guidance, and direction to our lives as we seek to follow His will and unique purpose for which He created us.
Today, remember to walk in the truth of the Apostle Paul’s writing in Romans 8:37-39…
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,k neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God’s love for us began at Creation, continued at the Cross through our Salvation in Jesus, and now will last throughout this life and all throughout eternity in heaven. But until we reach heaven, His Holy Spirit is ever-present in us and with us through all things. Our heart’s desire each and every morning should be to say, “Holy Spirit you are welcome here.”
“Praise the Lord, O my soul; All my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Psalm 103:1-6
When the “battle” seems fierce our tendency can be to take our gaze away from God and place it on our outwardly or inwardly circumstances. There are many times when our inner battle is more fierce than our outward battle, because if our enemy can thwart our mind’s focus on the truth of who we are in Christ and the promises of God, the greater opportunity he has to defeat us spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and relationally. These are all aspects of our lives with which God created us in His image as holistic beings, and with which we can be attacked by the “flaming arrows of the enemy."
In verse six of Psalm 103, David writes, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed,” meaning that when we experience any type of oppression (the feeling of being pressed or weighted down), God remains faithful to be with us, and to never leave us, continuing to work on our behalf. Things of this world such as depression, anxiety, and fear of the uncertainty of the future can cause a sense of oppression leading to deeper feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness. We can, if not careful and alert, be drawn away by our feelings and emotions from the very promises of God regarding our position in Him, and His promises to go before us in order to carry out His plans for our lives through the victory we have in Jesus moment by moment each day.
Our enemy and his dark forces would surely despise us at any point claiming the very truth of God that sets us free - for with freedom comes transformation, and with transformation in Christ comes lives redeemed for His glory and purposes. Therefore, in verses 1-5 of Psalm 103, David provides a prescription for times of discouragement in the battle and along our spiritual journey. He writes, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
In this passage, we are given a key element of truth that becomes part of our offensive and defensive strategies against our enemies. This most important element of the battle is praising God, “Praise the Lord, O my soul…praise His holy name…Praise Him and forget not all His benefits.” Praising God in the midst of adversity, struggle, and the trials of life reminds us that He is still in control and is able to go behind and before us as our refuge, strength, provider, and protector in all circumstances. We are also to praise Him for He has forgiven us of all our sin, heals our diseases, redeeming our life from the pit and crowns us with love and compassion satisfying the deepest needs of our soul. Not only that, but God renews our strength in Him, “so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” As we take small, simple steps of obedience toward Christ each day, we will be drawn nearer to Him through our praise and worship of Him for who He is and for all He is doing on this day, and in our days to come. For as we began with verse six, so we end, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Therefore, today if you have feelings of discouragement, anxiety, depression, or oppression in your spirit, reach out to the Lord by simply looking for opportunities to praise Him. This will guard your heart and redirect your spirit toward Him and away from a central focus on your circumstances.
Father, today may I find opportunities to praise and worship you even in moments of trial and testing, even when my emotions and feelings shout otherwise. Thank You for being ever-present, able, and in control of all the circumstances of my life. Regardless of what battles I experience today I know you are with me and that you go before me. Help me be quick to remember all of the benefits of being Your child - forgiven, redeemed, loved, and cared for in every way. Lord, You are always good, may I praise you for that moment by moment throughout this day. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.