Ashamed and Troubled?

I know exactly what you are felling. Half a lifetime and not so long ago I fidgeted in seat, palms sweaty and heart racing. I looked for any excuse to dismiss myself from the service as the preacher preached about the last days and described the soon to come events that left an already anxious teenager feeling the weight of uncertainty and the fear of being lost and alone. I was troubled by the signs of the times.

Uncertainty remains. I’m not sure exactly how or when everything is going to unfold in these last days. Men who have given much more time to the study of these things often disagree. I don’t rejoice when I hear of earthquakes and famines. My mind still explores the fearful possibilities when I hear of wars and rumors of wars. Yet despite all of these things, the trouble is gone.

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:6-8).

It is not God’s will for you to be fearful and troubled as the end draws near. In fact, His Word teaches us to comfort each other by talking about His return (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). We should be confident concerning the appearing of Jesus Christ, not fearful and ashamed (1 John 2:28, 4:17,18). It may be that the fear you are feeling is evidence of your need to make your heart right in repentance and trust the Lord for salvation.

Jesus gave the ultimate reason for us to banish trouble from our hearts:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).

In A Pit With A Lion

I recently finished In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day by Mark Batterson. Mark is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC and an excellent writer. If it is your desire to see the purposes of God fulfilled in your life, this book will help you to recognize and pursue your lions (opportunities).

I have picked out a few points that stuck out to me from each chapter. Read a few. If something jumps out at you, it would be well worth your time and money to get a copy for yourself.

Chapter 1

  • God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time. The right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the wrong time.
  • God is always using past experiences to prepare us for future opportunities. But those God-given opportunities often come disguised as man-eating lions. And how we react when we encounter those lions will determine our destiny.
  • There are two types of regrets: regrets of action and regrets of inaction (sins of commission and sis of omission). We often focus much more on regrets of action and sins of commission. However, it is often regrets of inaction and sins of omission that we wish we could change at the end our lives.
  • Do good! Goodness is not the absence of badness. You can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right.
  • Spiritual maturity is seeing and seizing God-ordained opportunity even when it looks like an obstacle.

Chapter 2

  • Too often our prayers resolve around asking God to reduce the odds in our lives. Maybe God wants to stack the odds against us so we can experience a miracle of divine proportions.
  • A.W. Tozer said, “The most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like…”
  • How you think about God will determine who you become.
  • The more we grow, the bigger God should get. And the bigger God gets, the smaller our lions will become.
  • God wants you to get where God wants you to get more that you want to get where God wants you to get!

Chapter 3

  • “There were a million reasons why I shouldn’t go… But I only needed on reason to go: I was called.” – Young Missions Worker
  • Don’t accumulate possessions; accumulate experiences! – Good advice
  • The way to upgrade your mind is to download the Scripture.
  • Satan has two primary tactics when it comes to neutralizing you spiritually: discouragement and fear.
  • Ask yourself a question – Are you living in a way that is worth telling stories about?

Chapter 4

  • Opportunities often look like insurmountable obstacles. So, if we want to take advantage of these opportunities, we have to learn to see problems in a new way– God’s way. Then our biggest problems may just start looking like our greatest opportunities.
  • Maybe we should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants us to get out of those difficult circumstances.
  • Worship is forgetting about what’s wrong with you and remembering what’s right with God.
  • There are basically two types of people in the world: complainers and worshipers. And there isn’t much circumstantial difference between the two.
  • The outcome of your life will be determined by your outlook on life.

Chapter 5

  • If life is infinitely uncertain and God is infinitely complex, then all we can do is accept our finitude and embrace uncertainty. Faith doesn’t reduce uncertainty. Faith embraces uncertainty.
  • Jesus never promised security. What he promised was uncertainty: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
  • Following Christ reduces spiritual uncertainty, but it doesn’t reduce circumstantial uncertainty.

Chapter 6

  • Everything we change changes everything. Too often we fail to connect the dots between choices and consequences. Every choice has a domino effect that can alter our destiny.
  • Easy answers produce shallow convictions. Jesus was rarely about giving easy answers. The disciples always were needing an explanation after he taught. He wanted them to dig that their spiritual understanding might be opened up.

Chapter 7

  • Dreams are still achieved one opportunity at a time.
  • Think of every opportunity as a gift from God. What you do with that opportunity is your gift to God.

Chapter 8

  • Even though is may seem foolish in the eyes of men, doing God’s will is never foolish.

I received “In a Pit with a Lion On a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive when Opportunity Roars” by Mark Batterson from Blogging for Books / WaterBrookMultnomah Press in exchange for my review, of which there was no pressure one way or the other regarding how I reviewed it.

Your Problem is for Your Promise

When God allows your enemy to linger, you can rest assured that it is for your good. If you are obeying the Lord and you run into an obstacle, know that God will use your obstacle as an instrument of blessing. If God has given you a promise but all you see is a problem, trust that God is using the problem to fulfill the promise.

Photo by katiebyers

As the Israelites found themselves in the wilderness between their captivity and their promise, they received a word from the Lord (Exodus 23). He assured them that He was going to bring them into their promise but presently, their promise was possessed by their problems. “Don’t be concerned about the problems,” he told them, “ I will take care of the problems.” However, God wasn’t going to do it like man would do it; He had a plan for the problem.

God told them that He was not going to drive their enemy out in one fast and fatal campaign because if He did, the land would become desolate and the animals of the field would become too numerous. God had a different plan for Israel’s enemies, He was going to drive them out little by little so that they could prepare the promise for His people.

Israel’s enemies were not in the land to defeat them. They were there to bless them. God told His people that they were going to live in houses and cities that they had not built and they were going to eat from vineyards that they had not planted. Who do you think was going to build their houses? Who do you think was going to plant their vineyards? Their enemy was!

Have faith! Take your eyes off of your enemy. Stop focusing on your obstacle. Don’t worry about your problem; God is using your problem to fulfill His promise!

The Power Of The Third Response

Imagine.

You in a strange city.  After parting company with your companions you begin to make your way back to your car.  After a couple of blocks you begin to realize that you don’t recognize anything and you begin to wonder if you have lost your way.  You pull out your phone to try to pull up a map and realize that your battery is dead.  Wonderful!  You are lost in a strange city after dark with no phone and no help.  And that is when you notice that you are being followed. 

At first you try to convince yourself that it is all in your head.  You make several strange turns to see of your pursuer will follow and he remains relentless.  Your breathing quickens, your palms sweat, your heart beats in your throat.  What now?

Fight or Flight?

This is the term used to describe the bodies preparation to deal with a stressful or potentially dangerous situation.  When backed into a corner, your body prepares to fight or to run.

We often find ourselves in spiritual battles in which we feel we are left with these two options.  We can fight or we can flee.  Sometimes fighting is right.  Sometimes fleeing is right.  But when backed into a corner by the enemy of your soul or by life’s difficult circumstances, there is a third option.

Stand!

Everything in us wants to take the situation into our own hands.  We want to roll up our sleves and fight our own battles.  We want to turn tail and run.  God says, “Stand.”

2 Chronicles 20:17 “Ye shall not [need] to fight in this [battle]: set yourselves, stand ye [still], and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD [will be] with you.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

This Spot Is Taken (I Don’t Want No Trouble)

Job 14:1 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” (ESV)

Trouble is the common denominator of all mankind.  Certainly, we would not even debate that the human family has adversity, calamity, sorrow, distress, anxiety, worry, fear, and despair.  All we need to do is read the news or talk to our neighbor to realize that trouble is all around us.  I would venture to guess that many of you reading this are faced with some kind of trouble in your life at this very moment.  If not, you will be very soon.  Trouble, at some degree and at some time, touches every life.

But that is only the bad news.

I am so happy that as much as there is a Job 14:1, there is also a John 14:1!

John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled.” – Jesus

Notice, He did not say that you would not have trouble.  Actually, He was saying quite the opposite.  He was telling His disciples that they would be hated by men for His namesake.  So what was Jesus saying? 

He was letting His disciples know that even when life is full of trouble, our hearts don’t have to be.

Trouble may be all around you, but don’t let it get in you.  Things may look hopeless, but keep on hoping.  Circumstances may look grim, but don’t let it affect your attitude.

Your heart was not meant for trouble.  Your heart was meant for Him.  Trouble and the Holy Ghost won’t make good roommates.  Not even if you put them up in opposite corners of your heart.

So next time trouble comes knockin’, looking for a place to stay.  Just tell trouble…

…”This Spot Is Taken”