Tricky-Tricky

If you haven’t figured it out by now, our family really likes to enjoy most holidays. Angela is super creative, and always seems to have some fun little ways we can make a holiday enjoyable for the boys.

Now, April Fool’s Day may not be the biggest holiday on the calendar, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we are going to prank each other plenty on that day. In fact, we enjoyed it so much this year that, as we put the boys to bed that night, they asked if we could extend it and make it April Fool’s Week. We gladly obliged, and the shenanigans began.

Toward the end of day 2, Alex had gotten Angela pretty good once or twice, and she had promised to get him back. His mind began swirling with ways she might try to prank him. As the boys got into bed, Alex kept looking all over trying to see how she was going to get him. She told him, “Oh, it may not be tonight. You don’t know when it’s going to be.” He could hardly stand it.

Later, she revealed to me that she didn’t have a prank set up. The prank was that she was trying to make him think she had one planned. Thus, he would go around the rest of the week looking under every cover and around every corner trying to avoid being pranked… all the while not knowing that WAS the prank.

Kind of reminds me how the ol’ devil works on us. He tries to trick us into thinking that he can do something to us, when in reality he has no authority or power over us unless we give it to him. He was defeated by God when God kicked him out of Heaven after a failed coup. He was defeated at the Cross when Jesus died for our sins, and at the Tomb when Jesus rose from the dead, sealing victory for us over death, hell, and the grave.

So the next time the devil threatens that he is going to get you, don’t sweat it. Ignore him. He’s trying to make you think he’s got something planned that is going to take you out, but he doesn’t… because he can’t! His plan is simply to make you think he can and thereby cause you to worry and fret, giving into fear so that he can manipulate you. Just look that ol’ liar in the eyes, and tell him to bring it! He’ll skulk away like the trickster he is, and you will chalk up another tally mark in God’s victory column.

Safe Place

The other day, on a particularly beautiful day after a number of days in a row marked by rain, we were outside as a family and decided to give the chickens a little time outside their coop and run to free-range. They were having the time of their lives eating up grass, weeds, bugs and worms. The three of them would go around together. Then they would split up and do their own thing.

At one point, a loud helicopter flew over pretty quickly. Each chicken stopped, listened, and then they all ran straight for their coop, in an almost single-file line. When they felt threatened, they knew right where to run. They knew that coop was their safe place to get away from danger. There, they sleep in peace and safety each night. There, they find nourishing food and refreshing water. There, they safely live out their purpose and lay eggs for us each day. That coop is their safe place.

For those of us who have a relationship with the Lord, we also have a safe place in life. We simply have to speak His name. And when we speak it- wherever we are- He becomes the place we can turn to for protection, for peace, and for provision. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 18:10 that the name of the Lord is our strong tower, and as the righteous, we can run into Him and be safe.

If something has startled you in life, speak the name of Jesus, and let your heart run inside His. There you’ll find your safe place.

Fearless

I don’t know what you’re afraid of. I really am not crazy about heights. Or snakes. Or confined, closed-in, restrictive spaces.

Yeah, I know those may be a little silly. There are a lot more serious things in life we could be afraid of… like getting sick. Or getting fired. Or being left alone. For some people, it is facing something new. Or someone new.

The thing is, we don’t have to live in fear. All throughout Scripture, God instructs- and on occasion even commands- those who love Him and follow Him not to be afraid. But He goes a step further and tells them how they can achieve that fearless lifestyle. He tells them to remember that He will be with them. Remember that the God who spoke, and suddenly sun and moon and stars appeared, would be WITH them. Remember that the God who could destroy the whole earth and yet save each species to start over was WITH them. Remember that the God who could tame lions and part seas was going to be WITH them.

So David didn’t have to fear Goliath… because God was WITH him. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t have to be afraid of being thrown in the fiery furnace because there would be a fourth person in the fire WITH them… and He was God. Esther didn’t have to fear going in to see the king unannounced… because God was going in WITH her. Peter didn’t have to fear walking on the water in the middle of a storm… because Jesus was right there WITH him.

And the even better news is that you and I don’t have to live in fear as we face our challenges… because is WITH us also. You’re not walking into that job interview alone… He’s WITH you. You’re not alone in that MRI room… He’s WITH you. No matter what you’re facing, you do not have to fear because that same God who was there for all those people thousands of years ago is alive… and will be WITH you.

So, don’t be afraid today… for He is WITH you!

Rise Up

Believe

This is going to be a great week!

Repeat after me… “This is going to be a great week!”

Now… Believe it! Believe that God has good things in store for you this week. Each day is going to get better. Something is going to make you smile… make you breathe easier. Someone is going to be kind to you. You are going to accomplish something… excel at something. You’re going to laugh more. You’re going to feel better. You’re going to achieve your goals.

This is not a week to dread. This is a week to anticipate!

How can I guarantee this? How can you live up to the hype? Well, simply put, it’s basically up to you and me. We can either go into this week dreading each day… fretting and worrying… stressed and fearful. Or we can choose to look for the best in people… see opportunities in challenges… search for the silver linings to passing clouds. It’s up to us. We will get what we believe for… either way. It takes exactly the same amount of trust and emotional energy.

Solomon wrote in Proverbs that the fears of the wicked and the hopes of the godly will come about. That tells me that how I choose to look at this upcoming week largely impacts how the week will go for me.

So, decide early on in this week that it is going to be great… maybe one of the best weeks you’ve ever had. Determine to see the best in people and find positives in every situation. Start each day smiling and looking forward to all the good you will find that day. And at the end of this week, I believe and declare that you will see that you have had the great week you anticipated!

Now let’s do this!

Forget The Forecast

It’s raining outside at our house at this very moment. Why is that important? Well, when we checked the weather app this morning… like less than an hour ago, it showed that there is zero percentage chance of rain today. In fact, it showed that our weather would be sunny and the temps would get up to 102 degrees today. Yet, when we looked out the window, we saw clouds. And then the rain just started falling about ten minutes ago.

We decided to ask Google if it was raining where we are. The AI device’s voice replied, “No, it is not raining where you are. It is sunny and 84 degrees.” We tried two or three times, even using a zip code closer to our house than where it thinks we live. Same answer every time.

And yet, we stood at the door looking out at rain. Rain… on what is supposed to be a zero percent chance day. Rain… when there is no rain reported. It rained today.

PR31 and I both went to each other simultaneously with the same thought… God can make something out of nothing. God can make something happen when the predictions and forecasts say it isn’t going to happen. God can make something happen even when reports around say it isn’t happening. He doesn’t need prognosticators to agree with Him. He doesn’t need reporters to agree with Him. He can do what He wants to do… when He wants to do it… out of nowhere.

That spoke to me today. I am reminded of the God written about in Romans 4:17 who calls things into existence that do not exist. He can do that in my situation. He doesn’t need a prophet or a preacher to say it’s going to happen. He doesn’t even have to have anyone else notice it’s happening. He can make happen in my life what I need Him to make happen… even if it doesn’t exist yet.

And the good news is… He can do it in your life, too! Don’t give up because others say it isn’t going to happen. Don’t give up because others don’t recognize it’s happening. Keep holding on to Him! Keep having faith! The God who calls things into existence which do not exist just made it rain at my house… and He will make something great happen in your life as well!

Unknown Paths

I have a friend who has worked for a major U.S. corporation for a number of years, and several months ago the company announced that they were moving his entire division to another country. All the jobs would be given to people from that country, and everyone working in that division would be let go before the end of this year. However, there would be three transitional jobs which would last for about a year and a half to help wrap everything up for the move which people working for the company could apply for. So, my friend applied for the three jobs… along with about a hundred other employees.

The company had said they would be meeting with people by the end of this month to let them know if they still had a job, and yesterday was my friend’s meeting. We, and plenty of others, had prayed that God would give him favor and bless him with one of these jobs. Going into that meeting, he had a 3% chance of getting one of those jobs.

But he didn’t get one of those transitional jobs. When he went into the meeting, the three people across the table from him began talking to him about work that he wasn’t exactly familiar with. It sounded like they were talking as if he already had the job. Finally, they said something, and he asked what they meant. They then told him that the company didn’t want to lose him, and so they were transferring him to another division… an up and coming division with great promise. On top of that, his pay would remain the same and he would retain his benefits. And instead of the job being a transitional, year and a half job, this would be a job with their typical four-year contract. Interestingly, my friend only needed to work three and a half more years to lock in healthcare for he and his wife in their retirement years.

In case you think you misread this story, you didn’t. God gave my friend a job he never applied for, lost no pay and kept all the benefits. God took his 3% chance, added 97% plus to it and did something for him that he didn’t even know to ask for.

When I think about that, I think about how Psalm 77:19 reflects on how God parted the Red Sea to give the Israelis a way of escape from the pursuing Egyptians who wanted to take them back into slavery. The water parted and stood up like two walls creating a completely dry path for them to cross through. The Psalm writer calls it, “… a path no one knew was there.”

Maybe you’re facing a situation today that seems impossible. Maybe you only have a 3% chance of success. Maybe no one gives you any hope. Listen, God has ways to answer your prayer that you haven’t even thought to ask Him about. He has paths no one knows are there. He has medical treatments or healing you didn’t know existed. He has people who will cut you a check and put it in the mail who didn’t even know you needed finances. He has the right person waiting to meet you who will be the connection you needed.

The verse of Scripture our boys are memorizing this week says that some things are an impossibility for us as humans, but with God all things are possible. Even getting a job you didn’t apply for.

Don’t give up. Don’t give in to fear and doubt. Instead, today give your situation to God, and trust Him to come through for you… even if He needs to make a path no one knew was there!