If at First You Don’t Succeed…


try again

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

In a meeting in the poor section of a southern city,  a boy stood to play a violin solo. After beginning three or four times, he gave up and sat down. How discouraged and embarrassed he was. Some snickered. The boy’s father stood up. The pastor thought that he was going to scold the people for their rudeness. He didn’t, however. He walked to where his son sat. He put his arm around his shoulder and encouragingly said, “That’s all right, son. You tried!” (from the book: Knight’s TREASURY of Illustrations.)

Have you ever failed? I believe it is safe to say that we all have. No matter how old or young, at some point in life, if we step out and try something new we are going to fail.

Did you have someone there to pick you up and dust you off? What a difference that makes.

As Christians each of us is going to fail at some point. Maybe you tried to witness to someone and were met with rebuke. Maybe you tried to sing a special at church and messed up. Maybe you invited someone to church and were rejected.

No matter what the situation, I want to encourage you today. “That’s all right. You tried.”

I want us to remember that our success as a Christian does not depend on other people. Our success as a Christian depends on our faithfulness to God. If God calls you to do something, whether it be singing a special at church or witnessing to a friend, God is looking for your availability. God wants us to be faithful to His calling. We are to leave the results up to Him.

The devil wants us to believe that if we do not succeed at what we set out to do for God then we have failed. He knows that if he can keep us discouraged then we will defeat ourselves. Do not let the devil steal the joy you have in serving God. Keep on doing what you feel God has called you to do and He will bless your efforts.

There is an old saying that I try to remember: “It is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.”

When I stand before God one day I want to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Go out and boldly serve God today. He has great plans for your life.

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A Season of Change


life-changes“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Life brings about all sorts of changes. Have you noticed that? Just when you think that you are settled in, on a steady course, life throws you a curve ball and turns you up-side-down. Here is the silver lining: God already has a plan. He already knows how that bump in the road is going to be used to better your life. A bump in the road to us is no surprise to God.

When I heard God whisper, “God has a plan for you in 2014” in my ear on New Year’s Eve I had no idea that God was talking to me. I just thought it was another one of those clever little quotes that God was giving me to pass along to someone else that I was needing to encourage. Boy was I mistaken.

My husband and I have been praying for a while now for a new house. The house we were in was a nice, cozy little home. It was the house my husband had grown up in since the age of fifteen. It was also getting very old. We had made some minor upgrades to it over the years, but quickly realized that we were going to have to put more money into it than it was worth. We were headed for a season of change, and we were scared to death.

We considered many options and prayed for God to guide us, but no matter how much we prayed we could never get peace about a particular decision. So, we did nothing. We decided that until we could both be at peace about a decision that we would just keep praying about it. I knew that God would lead when His timing was perfect.

As time went on I began to feel as if God was not listening. I questioned whether I was asking with the right motives. I made sure that I was asking with a sincere heart. I did everything I knew to do to hear from God. Still, all I heard was silence. It was as if God was telling me to just wait. More times that I should have, I said to God, “But God, you don’t understand. I need an answer,” and still there was silence.

Many times I went to my mom in tears, seeking advice on hearing from God. Here is a piece of advice that she gave to me and I will pass it on to you: “When you ask God to do something in your life, you better be serious about it, because when He says ‘move’ you better be ready to move.” I had no idea what she meant at the time, but let me assure you, we quickly found out.

As we prayed for guidance and waited to hear from God we began to have some issues at our house. They started off as minor electrical issues, but quickly grew into more serious problems, until one day we were given the advice that we better start seriously considering finding a new home.

I had spoken to one of the ladies at our church about helping us pray for direction and had asked advice on knowing when God was speaking. She said something to me that I will never forget. She told me, “Sometimes God wants you to take that first step of faith and then He will guide you the rest of the way.”

That is what my husband and I decided to do. Scared to death, we set out looking for a new home. For anyone who has ever bought their first home, you know how scary it is to take that first step.

Remember the advice that my mom gave about asking God to move? Well, we learned very quickly what she meant by that. We had gone a few times to look at mobile homes and had found a few we liked but had never seriously inquired about them. We decided after having the electrical problems that we better get serious and try to find a house.

We revisited one of the places we had looked before and within four hours had found a couple of houses we liked, and had started the necessary paper work to buy our first home. By the time we got home that day our heads were spinning, but I knew that God had been with us that day and I felt His peace was over me. I knew that we had done exactly what was suggested to us. We had stepped out in faith and God was beginning to lead.

It has been just a little over a week since we went to look at houses. Since that day, we have packed everything we own into boxes, torn down our old house and moved in with my parents until we get the new house moved in. We are praying that the new house can be here within a week. Just in case you missed it, let me add this in here: “ When you ask God to do something in your life, you better be serious about it, because when He says ‘move’ you better be ready to move.”

I could sit here and tell you story after story of how God has worked in our favor over the past couple of weeks. Numerous things have happened and there is no doubt that God is at work. We still have a long way to go before this season of change is over for us, but God has His hand on us and I am certain that we are right in the center of God’s will for our lives.

I wanted to share this story with you today for a few reasons:

The first reason is to encourage you. Maybe you are praying for God to move in your life. Let me assure you of this, if you ask with a sincere heart, and if you will be patient, God will move. But, let me warn you just as my mother warned me. When you ask God to move, you better be ready to move. Let me also encourage you to be patient. God’s timing is perfect. Even when we feel like God is not listening or He is being quiet, He is still working for us. Just because we can not see Him does not mean that He is not there. God has a plan for you too in 2014 and He will reveal it to you in His time.

Second, I would like to ask you to help us continue to pray. We have come a long way already but we still have a way to go. I can see God at work, I can feel His peace in our lives, and I can sense His protective hand over us as we move each day. Please help us pray that the rest of this process will go smoothly and that we will keep our ears and our hearts tuned in to what God wants us to do.

Thirdly, I pray that this story I shared with you today will encourage you to step out in faith. If there is something that you feel like God wants you to do but you have been too scared to do it, take that first step of faith. It may not be buying a house. There are numerous things that God could be calling you to do. Sometimes God wants you to take that first step of faith and He will guide you from there. If you will keep God first, He will not steer you in the wrong direction.

The Calm in the Storm


Jesus_Calming_the_Sea_Mark_4_37-39

 “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39

Do storms ever creep up in your life? Have you ever been enjoying the sunshine of life and before you know it, the clouds have rolled in and the rain begins to fall. What do you do?

The disciples faced this same problem. In Mark 4:35-41 we read that one day, Jesus and the disciples had set out across the sea in a ship when a storm came up. Can you imagine the fear that must have taken over those men as the clouds rolled in and the rain began to fall? I am sure the waves began to toss the ship from side to side. How fearful must they have been when the water began to come into the ship and slowly rise? Finally the men went down to where Jesus was sleeping in the bottom of the ship and awoke Him. They said to Jesus, “Do you not care that we are going to die?” We read that Jesus rises and rebukes the wind. He says, “Peace, be still,” and the storm immediately stops and a calm falls over the water. Then Jesus asks His disciples an interesting question, “How is it that ye have no faith?”

Sometimes in our lives storms blow in. One day life is going great. Things are going your way. But then the clouds start to build. Slowly the sun disappears behind the clouds and the rain begins to fall. What once felt carefree and easy now seems scary and uncertain.

I believe we need to learn a lesson from this story we read today. When the storms of life come our way, instead of letting them scare us and throw us off course, I believe that we need to keep our faith and focus on God. We need to place our faith in Him and allow Him to be the calm in our storm. There is nothing we can face that God does not already know about. There is nothing that is going to come up in our lives that is going to surprise God. He knows every single moment of our lives and He already has a plan.

I want to encourage you today. If you are facing a storm in your life do not let the wind and the waves frighten you. Place your trust in Jesus. Let Him be the calm in your storm. He may not always calm the storm, but I promise you that He will bring a peace to your heart like you have never known.

Remember this: “Sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms His child.”

God has a Plan


Mountain_road_to_Lysebotn

There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”

Proverbs 19:21

Are you enjoying your new year? I pray that you are.

I have something I want to share with you today.

~God has a plan for you.~

For some of you this is going to be easy to believe. For others, it is not going to be quite so easy. However, it is the truth. Whether you can see as clearly as day the road which God is leading you down, or whether you feel like you are traveling through the darkest night, God has a plan.

I have been in both places. I understand how each one feels.

Maybe you started out the new year with a bang. Everything is going great. You are excited about the new year and you know exactly where you are going. Oh, the joy that we feel when we are high on the mountain top of life. The skies are clear, the sun is shining, and we are certain that we are right where God wants us to be. Looking ahead we can clearly see the road paved for us, and we travel it with joy in our hearts.

Maybe your year has not started out so well. Maybe you have run into an unexpected storm. Maybe life has handed you a situation that you were not expecting. What happens when God’s plan seems so far out of reach that you fear you may never find it? Instead of a mountain top you find yourself in a valley. What was once clear skies and sunshine has suddenly turned into storm clouds and darkness. Where you could once see the road ahead, now it seems a fog has set it and you can only see one step at a time.

Let me assure you today, God is there! Whether on a mountain top or in a valley, God never leaves us. He has given us that promise in His word. Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

So many times we allow the devil to make us believe that God is with us when life is easy and all is going well, but somehow leaves us because the clouds have come and a few rain drops are falling. This is simply not true. God is with us all the time.

Sometimes in life, we must go through the valleys. Sometimes we must endure the rain in order to enjoy the sunshine again. Jesus knew that life would be this way. In John 16:33 Jesus says, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” 

No matter where you find yourself in this new year, I assure you that God will reveal His plan for your life in His time, if you will keep seeking and will remain faithful. If you are on the mountain top, praise God. If you find yourself in the valley, praise God anyway. He is there, no matter how you feel.

Remember: God has a plan. Whether mountain top or valley, whether sunshine or raindrops, God is working in your life. No matter how long the road, no matter how steep the hill, God’s plan is perfect. He will give you the grace and the strength you need if you will place your faith and trust in Him.

The Gift of a New Year


2014 gift

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14

Wow, a new year is here. It seems almost unreal that the first day of 2014 is upon us. It seems like yesterday we were preparing for the year 2000. People were running around preparing for the computers to crash. Some were even preparing for the world to end, yet here we are. Where has the time gone?

I love New Year’s Day. I have always enjoyed the start of a new year. Some people do not see much point in bringing in a new year. Many people sleep right through it. My dad use to tell us, “It will come whether I wait up on it or not.” I have always enjoyed “bringing in the new year.” There is something refreshing about saying good-bye to an old year and welcoming a new one. For me it is almost like taking off old tattered clothes and putting on new ones. I have always seen New Year’s Eve as a time to reflect. Some times it was to reflect on good things and some times it was to put away old painful things. Either way, the new year always brings about a new-found hope in my heart.

I sat last night and enjoyed watching the old year come to an end and a new one take its place. As I did I thought about all of the possibilities a new year brings. We never really know what a new year will hold, but I always find comfort in knowing that God does. What I see as a book with empty pages waiting to be filled, God sees as a masterpiece already written by His own hand.

As I thought about what I wanted to write today, the image of a gift came to my mind. I began to think about how a new year is like a present, given to us by God. It is crisp and neatly wrapped, waiting for us to open it and see what is waiting inside.

Here are a few things I imagine you would find if you could open your new year like a gift:

First, I think you would find a journal, beautifully covered, with gold-tipped pages. On the front of this journal would be your name. As you open it, you find crisp, clean pages waiting to be filled. This journal is your life story. Remember, however, you will never be able to write this story alone. No, the only way you will ever fill these pages with anything that makes sense is to place the pen in the hand of your Heavenly Father. Give the control to Him. I promise you, He can write a much better story that you could ever imagine.

Next, I think you would find a Bible. You see, this is God’s road map for your life. If you are wise you will not set it to the side and leave it there, but will take it with you and use it. Allow God to speak to you through it. Share it with those around you. Spread God’s word to everyone you meet.

Then, as you keep looking in the box, I think you would find a clock. This is to remind you that time is precious. Yes, we have been blessed with another year, but honestly we have no idea how much of that year we will see. We all pray that God will grant us the blessing of seeing many years come and go, but we are never even promised tomorrow. Let this clock be a reminder to you to make each moment count. Use your time wisely. Use your time for the Lord.

Finally, as you reach the bottom of the box, I believe that you would find a mirror. What could this possibly be for? No, it is not so you can look at yourself and find all the flaws. It is not even so you point out others’ flaws. This mirror is to be used to reflect God’s love. You see, you do not have the power in yourself to love other people the way that God wants you to. What you can do is allow God’s love to come into your heart, and then with His help you can reflect this love to those around you. Let other people see God’s love shining in you. This is the only way that we can lead others to Him.

So here is my question for you today: What will you do with the gift that you have been given? How will you use the things that God has given you in this gift called 2014? The choice is yours. The box has been opened, a new year has begun. The choice you have to make is what will you do with the contents of the gift? Will you take each piece out and use it as God has asked you to, or will you leave them where they are and wander through this new year alone?

My prayer for each of us today is that we will accept this gift of a new year. I pray that we will take each piece of this gift and allow God to use it in our lives. We have been blessed with a brand new year. The possibilities are endless, the adventures unimaginable. One thing is for sure, there is no way we can make this new year what it is supposed to be on our own. The only hope we have is in Jesus Christ. Let us put our trust in Him. Let us allow Him to lead, guide, and grow us as He sees fit.

Happy New Year, my friend. I pray that God will bless you today and all throughout the year to come.