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You, Lord, know every one of my deepest desires, and my noisy groans are no secret to you.Psalm 38:9(CEV)

The low fuel light comes on as he’s driving to work and his heart sinks. No money for gas, no options available. He has to get to work but doesn’t know how he’ll get home. Borrowing gas money again didn’t seem like an option he wanted to visit. God, why…

She turns out the light and lays her head on the pillow. She did it again. She promised herself she’d stay faithful, stay pure. More importantly, she promised God. What if she gets pregnant? What if he finds out? What if? O God, please…

The pop-up on the internet entices him. Three hours later he realizes he’s wasted an entire afternoon. How can he do this to his wife? How can he do this to his God? Who can he tell? Everyone looks to him as some spiritual leader, if only they knew, but God knows. Jesus, I’m so sorry…

It’s 2 AM. The silent breathing in the next room turns to a muffled cry. “I so wish I hadn’t had him…” She catches herself…again. How can she feel this way. She wanted a baby, no THEY wanted a baby. But now, after the accident she’s alone to tend to the house, the finances, everything. The guilt she bears towards her child overwhelms here. ‘If only.’ “God how can I…”

During those deepest, darkest times of your life he hears the groans of your heart; the groans no one else knows about. The feelings you would never be able to tell anyone.

Those regrets? He hears them.

The guilt and shame? He sees the scars.

The fear and worry? Knows about that too.

No matter who you are. No matter where you are in life. Whether you are a successful businessman, a highly esteemed ministry, a best selling author or a homeless person looking for the next fix. You have those feelings, those inner groanings of the soul that you bear alone. They can attack at night, in broad daylight, during times of celebration and times of grief. Sometimes your human soul can’t even find the words to express the emotion you feel.

It’s during those times that your Heavenly Father longs to come by your side.  God understands the language of half words. He knows the feelings interrupted with sighs, and interprets them as the breaths of a broken heart. Not only does he hear your broken thoughts, he has promised to never judge, never condemn, never get his ‘shocked look.’

Don’t allow the guilt, the worry, or the weakness of your soul deceive you into thinking God doesn’t care. He cares deeply and knows your thoughts before you think them.

PRAYER: Father, I praise you for the promise you have made to stay by my side. I’ve pushed you away at times. I’ve rebelled and stumbled in my weakness. I have feelings, doubts and fears I can’t express to my closest friends. I thank you that you hear me and love me. Amen.

“Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” Romans 11:3 (NLT)

Ever noticed how a campfire dies out more quickly if you spread the coals out? Once the coals are spread out the lack of heat generated drops the fire dies out much sooner than if you’d left the coals together.

The enemy knows that your spiritual, emotional and even physical well-being is much like the coals in a campfire. He knows that there is strength in numbers and that believers banded together in unity and love are disastrous to his cause. The best way for him to defeat you is for him to break down your endurance.

The lie he wants you to believe in the battle for your endurance is that you are all alone in your struggle. He wants you to believe no one else in your church struggles with pornography and if they knew about your struggle they’d surely ostracize you from the group and make you feel second rate.

He wants you to believe you are the only one that struggles with debt and he’ll remind you of the many sermons you’ve heard about tithing and not using credit cards and not borrowing from the future to acquire the toys of the present.

He’ll tell you that if you were responsible and gifted you’d be hosting the small group Bible Study at your home or at least going to one.

He’ll tell you the addictions, the thoughts and the feeling of being overwhelmed all the time is YOUR problem and if you were living by the Spirit you wouldn’t be going through this.

Once again, the problem with all of this is that in each statement he tells you there is a small element of truth. Remember, he is a master at telling you just enough to keep you down, distracted and discouraged.

His tactics aren’t new. He’s been discouraging God’s people since the beginning of time. The first murder was the result of Cain being discouraged because his offerings weren’t acceptable to God. He felt alone and left out. He became enraged and killed his brother. From that point on the story remains the same. Satan tells us we don’t measure up.

Even the great prophet Elijah experienced it and fell victim to the lie for a short time. He’d just seen God work mightily as a result of Elijah’s prayers. He’d just been empowered by God’s Spirit to kill over 400 false prophets. His prayers brought rain to a parched land. But when Jezebel threatened to kill him Satan whispered in his ear, “You are all alone. There is no one who will come by your side. You are doomed.”

Satan’s attacks seem to come at us at times when God’s been the most real to us. Pastors will tell you that the hours and days after a great outpouring of God’s Spirit, Satan will attack with a vengeance. We see it in our homes as well. When God works, Satan works overtime!

It’s what we do with his lie that makes all the difference in the world. If we believe we are all alone in our struggles we withdraw from others. We feel guilty when we can’t measure up to the standards Satan tells us we need to measure up to.   We compare ourselves to others and realize we can never be like them. The more negative the thoughts become the more we withdraw and the more we begin to believe we are total losers in the game of life.

The Truth Statement God wants you to remember is that “The struggles you endure today are not a sign you are alone but God’s call on your life to trust him more.” Just as Elijah discovered that there were many who were waiting to come alongside him, there are many who will come alongside you in your struggle.

Elijah’s ability to endure came after he took some time for physical rest and then found others who would support him. Our trust in God and ability to endure comes as we build around us people we can trust. Like-minded people who will pray with us, dig into God’s word with us and understand our short-comings without judgment. Endurance grows as trust in God increases.

PRAYER: Father during the storms of life I often feel very alone. What I see as my weakness keeps me from experiencing your strength. Empower me by your Spirit to keep from listening to Satan’s lies so I can hear your voice through those you bring into my life to encourage me. Amen.

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” John 14:8 (NLT)

The word Father had a completely different connotation to Philip in his day than it does to us today. The term ‘Father’ was much more than a symbol. It conjured up in the minds of every Jew a man that was honored, revered, feared and loved all at once. He was the essence of stability, love, consistency and trust. 

Philip was seeking what each of us wants in life. Someone that could be trusted to do what he said he’d do. Someone in whom they saw power and intimacy and leadership and sensitivity. Today, everyone has the same longing deep within them. We all long to have someone in our lives we can count on to be, do and say what they say they will. 

My apologies for a moment to the women reading this post. Mothers too have a powerful influence in our lives. But to get the full essence of Philips request we need to realize the immense influence of fathers in the emotional, physical and spiritual development of each of us. 

In the same way we need to realize that the ‘father’ that Philip sought is still being sought by many today. While it’s impossible for anyone to fulfill all the qualities of our heavenly Father, it’s imperative that we as fathers strive to work towards that goal.

So, what does our heavenly Father look like? Watch Jesus.

Ask the woman who was guilty of adultery. Remember, she wasn’t accused. She was guilty. Jesus makes no effort to exonerate her. He doesn’t argue her guilt at all. He simply says she was not condemned. What a Compassionate Father!

Question the man who lived his entire life rejecting God. That is, until his dying breath on the cross when he begged Jesus for mercy. Moments later he joined his Savior in Paradise. What a Merciful Father.
Ask the blind man who spend his entire life in physical darkness only to be misunderstood when Jesus gave him sight. What an Understanding Father!

Listen to the father of the seizure ridden boy as he tells the story of how Jesus healed his son and how, that night, he and his wife slept soundly for the first time in years. What a Sensitive Father!

Hear the story the paralytic by the pool recount. He’d given up any hope of healing. His disability started out being physical but grew to the point where it was emotional (I’ll never make it to the pool. I’ll never be healed) and then spiritual (even God has forgotten me). Then Jesus came. What an Encouraging and Healing Father!

Max Lucado states, “Faith begins when you see God on the mountain and you are in the valley and you know that you are too weak to make the climb.”

It’s during those dark times in our lives that we echo the words of Philip. I don’t understand all that’s going on. The future scares me. Just show me the Father and I’ll be okay.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Daddy, God of all creation. Thank you for being the kind of Father I need for all time. When I feel weak and am unsure I can go on, help me to see Jesus so that I can see you. Amen.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

Why is it that we say ‘salvation is a free gift of God’ and then go on trying to earn it? Imagine if you gave someone you loved a gift, a very expensive gift that they could never repay. It wasn’t a birthday or Christmas or even a special occasion. You simply loved them and wanted to give them something.

From that point on, they continued to do all sorts of things for you. You would come home and your lawn was mowed. Every morning you were greeted at your car with a hot cup of your favorite coffee.

Would you feel your gift was cheapened? Would you tell your friend to stop trying to do so many things and just enjoy the gift? Of course you would.

Too many times in our lives as Christ-followers we become defeated and discouraged because we try as hard as we can to earn our forgiveness. When we fail we try harder and become even more discouraged. Sometimes we even give up the fight and say ‘what’s the use. I’ll never be a good Christ-follower.’

God didn’t give us the great gift of grace so we could be perfect. God gave us the gift of grace because he knew perfection would never happen in us. So even in times of failure we can live victoriously. Even when we rebel we know we can come back home. When we slip into sin we can always repent and come home to him. He doesn’t expect perfection. He isn’t surprised when you fail. He doesn’t hold a grudge. Your sin and weakness don’t cause him to turn his back on you. He will never, ever give up on you.

Stop trying to be the messiah. That job has been taken. Stop trying to be perfect. Only one person has ever done that and you won’t be the second one. Your past mistakes, no matter how terrible, can’t keep God’s power from working in you. His grace is all you need to live powerfully for him.

PRAYER: Father God, I’ve tried to live this Christian life in my own power for far too long. I can’t get it right. There are some issues I just can’t conquer on my own and I’m tired of trying. Forgive me of my attempts to go it alone. Empower me to rest on the fact that your grace is all I need to experience your power. In Jesus name, Amen.

But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. Acts 2:23 (NLT)

One of my favorite movies of all time is Apollo 13. I watched the drama of the moon bound spacecraft hobbling back to earth after an explosion ‘first-hand’ on television. Still, when I watch the movie I still feel that twinge of ‘will they make it?’ surging through me. It amazes me how this group of people (some on planet earth, some thousands of miles away on a crippled hunk of metal) could work together to figure out how to solve the crisis.

Apollo 13 is a perfect example of a ‘successful failure’. They didn’t get to the moon and back safely. But they did get back safely after revamping their plans. True heroics is the ability to go with plan ‘B’ or ‘C’ when plan ‘A’ is no longer an option. To carry on when failure tells you success isn’t possible.

Although the story of Apollo 13 is intriguing, the story of salvation through Jesus Christ is even more so. Were we, as humans, able to look into the future and see how some of our decisions would play out, we’d no doubt change our plans to avoid failure. God didn’t do that.

Long before Adam was a glint in his eye he knew you would be where you are right now, while you are reading this. The website you looked at last night? He knew you’d visit there too. And the cruel words you said to or about that person at work, or in the next locker at school? Yep. He knew about that too.

God knew, long before what we call time, that you’d disobey him. He knew every failure you’d make. He knew every time you’d reject his quiet voice telling you to follow him. Even so, he made two decisions. One was to form you in your mothers’ womb in his very image. The other was to provide a way for you to escape a life bound by sin and struggle and pain.

God isn’t surprised when you fail and he’s not about to give up on you when you reject him. Nothing you can do will surprise him. Nothing you’ve done has made him give up on you. You can never escape his love and his forgiveness and grace is there for the asking.

Apollo 13 is an example of a good plan diverted by failure but ending in success. Salvation through Jesus Christ is an example of a good plan unaffected by failure and ending in a rich relationship with God and eternal life after we die!

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many times when I fail you. I even surprise myself by my weakness and inability to do the things I want to do! Thank you for the cross. Thank you that even though you knew I’d fail you went ahead and made me in your image. Thank you that your plan isn’t affected by my weakness. Empower me by your spirit to live a life pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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