I’ve heard it said that “night is darkest before the dawn”. Although I don’t know if that is scientifically true, what I do know is so many times in our lives we give up right before that break through moment. We turn back when the mountain becomes too difficult to climb, giving up moments before we stand at the peak. We get scared and turn back to what is familiar and comfortable right before we see God do something miraculous. Over and over again, we fail to endure.

Through an ongoing series of events over the past three years, God has helped me grow in ways spiritually that I never knew I needed to grow. For some time now I have been praying that God would allow me to walk away from a difficult set of circumstances that never seem to really get easier. His answer might be surprising to some, I believe God has called me to “endure”

The definition of endure according to Google is to suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently. If I’m being honest, I have been suffering. I’ve been suffering humiliation as I have been attacked in ways I never thought I would be. I’ve been called things I never imagined I would hear in my lifetime. Over and over I have seen hurts and painful, difficult circumstances occur from some places and with some people I never thought I would witness.

Does God really want me to endure in this? The human side of me wants to cry out: “God they are being mean to me! They are being unfair! They are saying things that aren’t true. God why aren’t you defending me!?” But time and time again as Scripture always does… the Word of God speaks: Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also… (John 15:20 NIV)

Yes… God’s call for me to endure through painful suffering (spiritual, mental, or physical anguish) can seem unfair. But, God always has a purpose for the pain. It is here in the midst of suffering and hardship that the Master molds us, shapes us, refines us, and continues the work that He started within us. The call to follow Jesus is not an easy one. Often I find myself struggling to be faithful through the attacks of the enemy. My mind drifts back towards the promise of Jesus: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)

The last thought that occurs to me tonight is that we are fighting a very real enemy (Ephesians 6:12) but we are called to “fight the good fight” of the faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Yes, it is unfair when people lie about you, misjudge your intentions, gossip about you, slander you, or try to humiliate you; but they did all these things to Jesus too. As a servant of Jesus, I am not above these things (neither are you) so let us endure them with joy and prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

If you are struggling in the midst of some incredible hardship, don’t give up! If God has called you to it, He will guide you through it. Remember that God is using all things for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Trust that what God has started in you, He will finish (Philippians 1:6). 

*Please take a moment and read all the Scriptural references listed in this Devoted devotional. My words are powerless to change your life or give you the life that each of us needs. The Bible links I’ve included throughout this article are essential to knowing and serving the One true God of creation.

The “How” of Christian Faith

Sometimes when you read the Scripture, there are certain things you almost wish weren’t there. Ways of thinking, living, or acting that can be contrary to everything that feels natural and easy are abundant in Scripture. For the purposes of this devotion, I’d like to explore one such way of Christian living found in 1 Thessalonians: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (Chapter 5, verse 16-18).

If I’m being honest, this Scripture seems almost impossible. If we take a serious look at our lives, the way we are called to live is impossible except by God’s help. Paul admonishes us in verse 16 of 1 Thessalonians to “Always be joyful”. Humanly speaking, this is an impossibility. Even the happiest people I know aren’t “always joyful”. When we find our source of joy in Jesus, who never changes (Hebrews 13:8), we can be more consistent in living lives of joy. 

So the “how of the Christian faith” is only through the grace of God. There are two specific steps we can take as followers of Jesus to live a life that honors the Lord: prayer and Bible study. God assures us in Philippians 1:6 that He will finish the good work He has started in us. So how do you live a life of more joy? Spend more time with Jesus.

Today I want to encourage every follower of Jesus to honestly and prayerfully examine their lives. In my own life I can see so clearly that as I spend more time in the Lord’s presence through prayer and studying the Scripture, every part of my life is impacted. I find greater joy, greater peace, and greater purpose as I spend more time with Him. As the Scripture says we should “never stop praying” (verse 17) and here in God’s presence we will find greater joy than we’ve ever known and the ability to give thanks in all circumstances.

As we wrap up this devotion, I encourage each of you to to consider a few questions:

  • If I am stressed and overwhelmed, have I been too distracted lately?
  • If I feel like I lack the joy I know should be in my life, am I spending time with Jesus?
  • If I have an ungrateful heart, have I ignored God’s blessings in my life?
  • Have I been feeling my life with the things of God or the things of the world?

If you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit today, remember that God corrects those whom He loves! (Hebrews 12:6) Don’t fight or run from the conviction… Jesus came so that we could have life and have it abundantly! (John 8:36) It’s time to step into that abundant life and experience the intimate relationship we have with God through our faith in Jesus.

The “I Can’t” Delusion

The Mayo Clinic defines a delusion as “a belief or altered reality that is persistently held despite evidence or agreement to the contrary”. The “I Can’t” delusion concerns not only the mind but also the heart and is one that many countless followers of Jesus struggle with each day. Over my lifetime it has taken me 34 years to reach a place I never thought I would: healing. Healing isn’t so much a destination as it is a journey and I am confident there is much more healing God wants to do in my life, and yours. In fact, that’s the reason I’m writing this message today: prayerfully hoping you will join me in this journey in the freedom of Christ.

There is a lie that the father of lies speaks into the heart of every believer: “you can’t”. Because Satan is described as one who comes only to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10), we would do well to examine this lie so we can conquer it. Because of the relentless nature of this lie, over time the “you can’t” lie becomes a delusion that each of us owns and it slowly but surely becomes: “I can’t”. 

Although the “I Can’t” delusion plays itself out in many different ways in our lives, there are a few you are sure to recognize:

  • I can’t change
  • I can’t stop
  • I can’t find victory
  • I can’t receive healing
  • I can’t forgive
  • I can’t _____________ (insert whatever lie you struggle with)

Because Satan cannot steal our salvation and he cannot separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39), the only thing he can do is trap us in lies that make us ineffective, depressed, and live a life contrary to the promises of God. Often in my own life the “I Can’t” delusion finds its roots firmly embedded in pride. In the deep dark corners of my mind where I refuse to admit I have a problem until that problem has almost destroyed me. It is by God’s grace and mercy that time and time again He brings me back from this place. Maybe you are there today… feeling so powerless but too ashamed and pride filled to admit it.

Every believer should memorize Romans 12:2, this is a powerful weapon we can use to fight the “I Can’t” delusion. Romans 12:2 says: Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT). Often I’ve told my oldest son who struggles with the lie of “I Can’t”, whether you think you can or you think you can’t… you are right. Although all our struggles can’t be made right by simple positive belief, by trusting in the God of the impossible, nothing will be impossible for us.

It’s important to stop for a moment so you don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. The source of our power and our ability to do anything is not found with-in. The source of our strength and hope is found only in Jesus. It isn’t a matter of “if” Jesus can do something or not… nothing is impossible for Him. This truth is echoed throughout the Scriptures. It is here in the presence of God, fully forgiven, restored, and redeemed through our faith in Jesus that we can be transformed by God. Here, God changes even the way we think!

Let’s take a look at the list of “I Can’t” statements we already looked at:

  • I can’t can change because I am forgiven, free, and redeemed in Christ.
  • I can’t can stop because I am no longer a slave, I am free in Jesus.
  • I can’t can find victory, Jesus has already given it to me.
  • I can’t can receive healing because nothing is impossible with my God.
  • I can’t can forgive because in Christ, God has forgiven me.
  • I can’t can _____________ because in Christ I am a new creation, being transformed by the power of God. (insert whatever lie you struggle with)

My heart’s desire today is that anyone reading this message would experience the overwhelming Truth and freedom we have in Christ. It is past time for every believer to experience true freedom, power, and relationship with God through Jesus. Today and every day as you move forward, stop believing the lies that “You Can’t”. Verbalize the truth whenever the “I Can’t” delusion rises in your life. Take the truth of God and speak it over your life.

Lastly, know that Jesus is not “a truth”, He is THE Truth. The only way you will ever experience true freedom and victory in your life is through Jesus. Reading, studying, meditating, and filling your life with the Word of God will build you up with God’s truth concerning who you are. Everything we are is because of who God is and His great love for us (John 3:16). Here I am celebrating every victory with you, because YES YOU CAN, in Jesus name.