Your Failures Do Not Define You


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Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.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 3:12-14

Do you ever feel like a failure? I think it is safe to say that every one of us has felt this way at one time or another. I am sure there are many of us who would say that we feel this way more often than we would like to admit.

We all fail from time to time. Part of trying is knowing that there is a chance that we will fail. How many times throughout history have people accomplished great things after failing time and time again? One of my favorite examples of this is Thomas Edison. I once heard this quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”(Thomas A. Edison) We all know this popular quote was spoken about the discovery of the light bulb. What would have happened had he given up?

Many times in life we are going to fail. We are going to set out toward a goal only to trip and fall, or come up short. What really matters is that we get back up and try again. Philippians 4:13 tells us: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

 I just wanted to take a moment to encourage you today. Yes, in this life we are going to fail and yes, we are going to come up short from time to time. Our failures are not what is important. What is really important is that we learn a lesson from our mistakes and that we keep on trying. Remember that with God all things are possible. Let us remember to do as Paul did and keep reaching toward the mark that God has set before us.

I pray today that we will remember that no matter what our goals are, we are not failing unless we quit trying. No matter how slow the progress, or how many times we must rest and try again, let us just keep going.

Learning to Bend


Rainbows in Belfort

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

I have heard that the reason some trees break in a storm and some trees survive it is because some know how to bend and some do not. Have you ever watched the trees sway in the fierce winds of a storm? A few years ago, a hurricane passed through our area. We sat on the front porch of my mother and father-in-law’s house and watched as the storm passed through. They have a very large oak tree in the front yard. We watched as the wind pushed the limbs of that tree in all directions, almost to its breaking point, but never once did it break.

As I told you last time that I wrote to you, our family has been going through some major changes in our lives since the new year. You can read about it in my post: A Season of Change. We are finally all settled into our new home. What a blessing this journey has been! I can not say that it has not come with its share of storms, however. One of the greatest lessons I have learned from this whole process has been how to bend.

I never realized when we started the process of moving, exactly what we were facing. All I knew was that God said to move and so we did. Throughout our journey we faced blessings along with trials. The one thing I am sure of is that God was with us through it all and He carried us every step of the way. Even in the midst of uncertainty, God placed a peace in my heart that I knew could only come from Him.

God was in control of what felt like a storm to us; all we had to do was to learn to bend. Every time a storm came we would hand it over to God and every single time He would bless us.

Every trial we faced seemed like a mountain to us. More than once I watched as God not only carried us through that trial, but it was as if He simply pushed that mountain out of the way and set our feet back on a solid path.

I want to encourage you today. There are going to be times in your life when you are going to have to face storms. You, just like those trees, are going to have to learn to bend. If you can not learn to bend, then you are most certainly going to break. I have said from the very first day of 2014 that God has a plan for each of us. I firmly believe that still holds true today. Even if God’s plan for your life feels as if you are in the middle of a storm, learn to bend. God will take care of you.

When the Storms of Life Come Your Way


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“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matthew 14:31

Throughout the school year our children are required by the school that they attend to memorize portions of Scripture. Each morning we gather together and say our pledges and read the scripture that they are to be learning. As part of their daily goals, they are required to learn a new verse of the Scripture and recite it to one of the teachers by the end of the day. The portion of Scripture that we are learning right now is found in Matthew 14:22-33.

If you have never stood in a room and listened to a group of children recite memory verses, you are missing out on a blessing. As I stand and listen to each of those children recite, from memory, a portion of God’s word, I can only imagine how God must feel as He watches these precious children hide His word in their hearts as He has commanded each of us to do.

Yesterday, my oldest son was quoting the verse that I have chosen to share with you today. As he recited his scripture, the words, “And immediately, Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him,” caught my attention.

I thought about the story of Peter and how he had asked Jesus to allow him to come and walk on the water. We know that in the story as Peter steps out on the water and begins to walk to Jesus he sees the storm around him, takes his eyes off of Jesus, and immediately begins to sink. In verse 30 we read that as Peter begins to sink, he cries out to God to save him.  Today I want us to focus on verse 31. Particularly the part that says, “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him,”

How many times in our lives have we acted just as Peter did in this story we read today? We ask God for the opportunity to do something, or we ask God to open a door for us, and then when He does and things get a little rough, we get scared. We allow the storm to distract us and we take our eyes off of Jesus. Realizing that the situation in which we are standing is so much bigger than ourselves, we panic. In fear, we begin to sink. If we are smart, we will do as Peter did and cry out for God to save us.

The encouragement I want to offer to you today comes not from Peter walking on the water, nor from him getting scared and sinking, but from Jesus’ response to Peter as he begins to sink. You see, the very moment that Peter cried out for Jesus to save him, Jesus Immediately reached down and caught Peter. Friends, He wants to do the same for us. When life gets scary, when we look around and realize that the storm is here, when we let the storm distract us and we let fear get the better of us, God wants us to cry out to Him. When we do that, He will do just as He did for Peter. Immediately, God will reach down, and catch us. He will set our feet back on solid ground.

Life is full of opportunities, chances to allow God to show us His power. God wants us to step out in faith and come to Him, just as Peter did. Along with those opportunities, however, we may encounter a few storms, a few waves. There are lessons to be learned from this story:

First, I believe that we must never take our eyes off of the One who gives us the power to do the impossible. We must learn to keep our eyes on the source of our strength and not let the waves cause us to fear and doubt.

Second, I want us to remember that if we do get scared, if we take our eyes off of Jesus and begin to sink, we must do as Peter did and cry out to Him. Do not allow yourself to sink in despair. Do not let fear get the better of you, cry out to God and immediately he will reach down and catch you. He will not allow you to sink. He will not allow fear to overtake you. He will pick you up, and He will save you.

Facing Your Giants


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 “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:35

Last night before we went to bed, I read the story of David and Goliath to our little girl. I never get tired of hearing or reading this story. What encouragement we can find in the story of one little boy, five smooth stones, and one mighty God. You can read the story for yourself if you would like. It is found here, in 1Samuel 17.

This morning I want us to think about the giants we face. We all have them. No matter what they are, each one of us faces giants every day. We may not be facing a nine-foot tall giant with a sword, but no matter what your giant is, it can be just as scary if we are not equipped with the right defense.

What kind of giant are you facing in your life? What do you call him? Is your giant named fear? Is his name heartache? Maybe you call him illness. I do not know what the name of your giant is, but I do know that the Bible promises help for any giant we may have to face.

I want to offer you some encouragement today. Just as little David took five smooth stones and defeated a giant, I want to offer you some defense for the giants you face in your life.

Are you are facing the giant named fear? Maybe there are things going on in your life that are uncertain to you. Maybe you are facing problems that no one else knows about and you are afraid. There is someone who wants to fight that giant for you. His name is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) You see, the devil wants to fill us with fear. He knows that he has no real power over us, so he uses our own feelings against us. Fear can be a pretty big giant. The more we focus on him the bigger he gets. I encourage you to let the Prince of Peace fight your giant fear today. The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Do not let fear defeat you. Let the peace that only God can bring flood your heart.

Are you facing the giant named heartache? Has someone or something broken your heart? Maybe a dear friend or family member has passed away. Maybe someone close to your has said something and hurt your feelings. There is someone who will fight the giant heartache for you. His name is the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. We read in Romans 8:26: Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Let this verse encourage your heart. We are assured that even when we do not know what to say, when we do not even have the words to utter our feelings, the Holy Spirit will go before us and intercede for us. If you are facing the giant heartache, please let the Comforter fight the battle for you. Let the Holy spirit comfort your heart.

Maybe you are facing the giant illness. Do you fear that you will never defeat him? You can not defeat this giant on your own, but the Bible does offer some help. Many times in the Bible we are told about Jesus healing people. Many times we refer to Jesus as The Great Physician. All throughout the New Testament we find stories of Jesus healing the lame, the blind, even raising people from the dead. We read in James 5:14: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” I can not promise you that Jesus will take away every sickness that you have. We read in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 about Paul’s thorn in the flesh. He says: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” We are not always promised healing. We can rest assured, however, that God’s grace will be sufficient if we will only trust in Him, The Great Physician. If you are facing illnesses in your life, find comfort. Whether you are healed as so many were in the Bible, or whether you must endure your thorn in the flesh as did Paul, you can find comfort in knowing that Jesus has a plan for your life. We must simply trust that the God of the universe knows what is best for us.

I do not know what giant you are facing today, yet I can promise you that you do not have to fight him alone. Just as David found the courage to fight the giant, Goliath, you can have the same courage to fight the giant in your life. No matter what you are facing, God is right there beside you, holding your hand, if you will only have faith and trust in Him.

Finding Peace in Uncertain Times


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“So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

Hebrews 13:6

Have you ever been in a scary situation? Have you ever been facing a situation in which you were uncertain of the outcome?

How are we supposed to handle times like these?

I am reminded of something that my mom would tell me when I was a little girl: “They might kill you, but they can’t eat you.”

Now, you may be thinking to yourself right now, “Valarie, that is not very comforting.” but, when you look at today’s scripture it does make a lot of sense. As a child, that simple phrase brought me comfort about many situations I had to face.

You see, what my mama said to me all those years ago still holds true today and though I did not realize it at the time, it is biblical.What she was trying to tell me then is exactly what Jesus was telling us in His word: Ultimately, there is nothing that man can do to us. No matter what you face, you do not have to be afraid because Jesus is always there.

What can man really do to you?

As we go through life, we are going to face many trials. Life has a way of throwing curve ball after curve ball. What we have to remember is this: If we have God on our side, we can not lose. “Even if they kill us they can’t eat us.”

We are told in God’s Word that we will have trials in this life, but that we do not have to worry, because Jesus has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

We live in a world of uncertainty. As each day goes on, more and more is happening that raises concern for Christians all over the world. We do not have to fear, however. We have promises from God that should bring us comfort. We have the promise of today’s Scripture to hold on to.

We can draw comfort this morning from the fact that yes, we are facing some uncertain times ahead. Yes, we are sure to have some struggles. We must remember that no matter what happens, we are in the hands of God. Our Scripture says when we find ourselves in trouble, we can Boldly say, “I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

Friends, what my mama said to me all those years ago, still stands today. No matter what happens in this life, if we are covered by the blood of Jesus, man can not do anything to us. We may face trials, temptations, even death, but nothing that this world can throw at us can separate us from the love of God. If we will just keep the faith and continue to trust in God, He has promised us a home in Heaven with him some day.

I do not know what kinds of trials we may have to face in the coming months, and years, but I do know this: No matter what this world throws at us, we have a hope that can not be taken away from us, we have a promise of a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

“Even if they kill you, they can’t eat you.”