by Pastor Tim Burt
I was talking with someone recently whose life is thriving and who is on top of the world. I talked to a couple of other people who are struggling because they are experiencing some difficulties. As good as it may be for some, there are more that are experiencing difficult hardships. It could be economic, health-related, relational issues, or whatever. If you are one of those people, how do you keep encouraged while working through difficult times? Let me encourage you with what God has taught me to do over the years.
First, I examine my heart. Is my heart and walk with the Lord in the place it should be? If it is, I can move forward. If it isn’t, I need to do what Mary did—sit at the feet of Jesus. He is Lord. He is Savior. And without Him, I can do nothing. Prideful people never make it to this place. They try to move forward in their own strength—even when they’ve strayed from where they know they should be in the Lord. Pride can keep you on the wrong path and keep you there for a very long time. But, there’s a better way. Instead, take a time out. Pray about fasting time-wasters or things you know are not pleasing to God. Instead, give yourself more time with God in His Word, prayer, and things that bring you into His presence.
In those times, examine your walk with God and don’t lie to yourself. You’re not fooling Him! If there is enough evidence to suggest, you’ve strayed from God, then pray and ask God to help strengthen you and give yourself over to those things that would put you on a better path with Him. The Holy Spirit will help you. (And trust me, do this and you’ll feel so much better quickly!) Isaiah 44:22 (NLT2) “I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”
Secondly, take the Apostle Paul’s counsel and be aware of the devil’s devices. Satan is the author of lies, attacks, discouragement, and hopelessness. These things are not from the Lord but from Satan to discourage and get you to give up on God! Troubles can get in your head and become all you think and talk about. If that’s the case, they’ve become a demonic stronghold. We are to take hold of the negative thoughts, fears, and worries that create strongholds and cast them down. Imagine them as muddy pigs walking across your beautiful wood floor. How would you respond to that? Grab a broom and scream and chase them out in Jesus’ Name! Take charge! 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV) “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. “
When you’ve done that, purpose to get your mind on something else. Listen to or read something written by a Bible teacher or Pastor you relate to, that would encourage you. Get your mind back on the right thoughts. Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV) says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Thirdly, meditate and focus on the multitude of promises that reveal God’s will for you to be a light and a blessing, and to be blessed in all your ways. Make them the meditation of your heart and the proclamation of your mouth. I don’t mix thoughts and words of despair and God’s promises together. Oil and water do not mix. God and the devil don’t mix. My heart, my mind, and my words belong to God. In God’s strength and in the name of Jesus, I take my authority over what I think and say.
Finally, before I read the Word, I ask God to speak hope, promise, and encouragement to my heart through His Word. When He does—and surely He will, I think on it, say it, share it, and pray it. Getting your life on a good path and meditating on what God wants for you builds your faith and encourages your heart! Things will begin to look and feel better in your life!
Jeremiah 15:16 (NLT) “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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