Marriage Breakthrough

Posted: June 11th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Do you ever feel stuck? Like you’re not sure how you got into your current circumstances? Or how to get out?

Have you ever wondered if what you have now is as good as it will ever get? And what you have now isn’t so hot?

Have you ever lost hope?

Have you hoped or prayed for a breakthrough?

On Friday, June 12th, my friend, Jeff Caliguire, and I will be doing a live session online:

The Top 5 Breakthroughs Wives Believe Their Husbands Need to Win at Work and at Home

You’re invited to join us to hear what wives had to say about their husbands, the state of their marriages and what they believe their husbands need most to breakthrough in life. We’ll be covering some good stuff!

Click here for more information on the time in your area and to register.


Expectations of God and Life

Posted: May 20th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

20351974 s 300x176 Expectations of God and Life

Years ago, I heard it said, “Life wouldn’t be so hard if we didn’t expect it to be so easy.”

Apparently I wasn’t listening well enough. That one expectation may be the source of more of my aggravation and disappointment than anything else in my life. On second thought, there’s no reason to include the words “may be” in that sentence. Let’s replace them with the word “is.”

My default setting is to expect things to always go well. As in easy. As in my favor. As in without struggle.

Where did I get that idea from? It’s not even close to reality. It’s certainly not found in the Bible. There’s nowhere in all of Scripture where God promises a life of ease and comfort. In fact, the opposite is true. We’re promised hardships and trials and suffering.

Yesterday, we looked at Israel’s trek through the wilderness and how after a little over a year, they were whining and complaining about their conditions. They missed the food they had in Egypt. They were tired of manna and wanted some meat.

Even Moses started griping at God. He ended his little rant with, “If this is how You intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”

I understand how Moses felt. Don’t you?

Moses expected it to be easier. He thought they were headed to the Promised Land. Instead, they’re camped in the wilderness. If you’re a mom of young children, you know how frustrating it can be when they’re whining and complaining. Moses had two million of them to deal with.

After making their way to the edge of the Promised Land, they send spies in to scout out the land and bring back a report. The spies tell of a great land, but also strike fear in the hearts of the people by telling them they’ll never be able to defeat the nations already in the land. That’s when God sends Israel back into the wilderness as punishment.

Fast forward forty years…

Moses says to the nation of Israel:

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

I’ve seen this pattern in my life and in the lives of others. God begins to change your circumstances. Maybe it’s a new job. Or a new relationship. Or a new place to live. Everything looks great! God has answered your prayers!

But often times, there’s a wilderness between where you’ve been and where God is leading you. And there are lessons to be learned there before moving on. God humbles us. He tests us. He causes us to hunger and then feeds us. He’s teaching us that we can trust Him. He’s disciplining us and training us for our own good and for greater fruitfulness.

My problem is forgetting that. I expect things to be easy. I fail to remember there’s often a wilderness to cross first.

Are you in a wilderness? If so, don’t lose heart. God’s at work. He’s not planning to abandon you where you are now. He’s bringing you through this difficult season to prepare you for what’s ahead, to reveal Himself to you and to teach you that you can count on Him no matter what you’re facing.


Aggravated With God

Posted: May 19th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

38999995 s 300x198 Aggravated With God

It’s been over a year since Israel left Egypt. They’ve camped at Mt. Sinai, received the law and now they’re on the move. They know when to move and when to stay because God leads them through the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The cloud or the fire are always visible.

God also provides food for them every morning. The manna appears on the ground with the dew. They gather what they need, grind it up and bake it like flat cakes.

Wouldn’t you think these people would be in awe? Wouldn’t you think they’d be blown away after seeing all the plagues God sent in Egypt, how He parted the Red Sea and how He’s been leading and providing for them in the desert? Wouldn’t you think?

Well, they’re not in awe. Or blown away. In fact, they’ve had enough already. And they’ve started complaining.

I’d like to ask them what in the world they were thinking when they started complaining, but I don’t need to. I can just ask me. I’m them. I totally get where they’re coming from.

In Numbers 11, they’re complaining about their hardships, so God sends a fire into the outskirts of the camp. They scream for Moses to help and after he prays, the fire stops. But some of them die.

Then some of the foreigners traveling with Israel start reminiscing about the good old days in Egypt when they had all the delicious food they wanted. Well this gets some of the Israelites stirred up again and they start complaining again.

Moses can hear the people complaining, so then he gets in on it. Here’s the account in Numbers 11:10-15…

10 Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. 11 And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? 12 Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? 13 Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! 15 If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”

Can you relate? I can.

Moses didn’t ask for this. He didn’t want to be God’s spokesman to Pharaoh. He didn’t want to lead all these people. He didn’t ask for this trouble.

And yet, here he is. Right in the middle of a big old mess trying to lead a couple million complainers through a desert.

I counted them. He asks God seven questions. Are any of them familiar to you? They sure are to me.

Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly?”

What did I do to deserve…?”

Did I…?”

Did I…?”

Why did You tell me…?”

How can I…?

Where am I supposed to…?”

Moses isn’t a little frustrated. He’s aggravated. Very aggravated. I get it. I would be too. To be honest, I’m aggravated about far less than that right now. And I’ve got some of those same questions for God.

What about you?

Are you aggravated with your circumstances and with God?

Maybe you’re wondering why God is treating you the way He is. Or what you did to deserve the situation you’re in. You’re wondering why God told you to do the things He did and why things are falling down around you. And now you’re trying to figure out how to fix the problem God has gotten you into. So you’re looking around for help or answers you need and can’t find any.

I’m right in there with you if you’re going through a hard season. And you and I are in good company. Moses struggled too.

More thoughts tomorrow…

By the way, if one of your aggravations is your marriage, then let me encourage you to check out my FREE video by clicking here.


Freak Out or Faith?

Posted: April 14th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 Freak Out or Faith?

How do you respond in a crisis? I don’t mean your first reaction. No one does well when the phone rings at 2:00 a.m. I’m talking about your second reaction. After you’ve had a little time to process.

Do you panic? Feel overwhelmed? Worry? Get anxious? Are you filled with fear? Or dread?

Or maybe you respond well. You pray, assess the situation and take action. Instead of fear, you respond with faith. You might feel powerless, but that drives you to pray.

How do you respond?

In Luke 8:22-56, there are a number of people who are facing a crisis of one kind or another. Some are in fear of their lives. Some are facing serious health issues. And it’s fascinating to see how they respond and then how Jesus responds to them. Click here to read the passage.

The first group of people we see are the disciples. They’re out on the lake in a boat when a fierce storm hits. The boat was filling with water and they were in real danger. How do they respond to the crisis?

They freak out by waking Jesus up and shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

Jesus calms the storm and then asks, “Where is your faith?”

When they arrive at the other side of the lake, a demon-possessed man approaches Jesus just as He’s getting out of the boat. This guy was homeless, naked and had lived alone in the cemetery for a long time. The demons have a crisis on their hands. The Son of the Most High God has just shown up. How do they respond?

They freak out, too. They beg Jesus not to send them to the bottomless pit, but to instead allow them to go into a herd of pigs. Jesus gives them permission and they enter the pigs. The herd then rushes over a steep cliff into the lake and drowns.

The people of that region hear what has happened and rush out to Jesus. When they see the man who’d been demon-possessed sitting there, fully clothed and in his right mind, they face a crisis. Something powerful and mysterious has just occurred and they don’t understand it. How do they respond?

They freak out, of course. They’re afraid of Jesus and beg Him to leave. The one person who isn’t freaked out is the guy who’s been made well. He begs to go with Jesus, but Jesus tells him to go home to his family and tell them all God has done for him.

Jesus gets back in the boat and heads to the other side of the lake again. When He arrives crowds press around Him, including a guy named Jairus who’s 12-year-old daughter is dying. How does he respond to his crisis?

He believes Jesus can heal her begs Him to come with him. Jesus agrees to go with him, but then gets sidetracked by a woman in crisis. She’s been bleeding for twelve years without relief. Nothing she has tried has cured her. How does she respond?

She believes that if she can just touch the cloak Jesus is wearing, she’ll be healed. And she is. Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

While Jesus is speaking with her, word comes to Jairus that his daughter has died. But Jesus says to him, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”

When Jesus arrives at his home, He tells the mourners to stop weeping because the little girl is only asleep. They all know she’s really dead and so they respond by laughing at Jesus. Of course, Jesus gets the last laugh when He brings her back to life.

Let’s recap…

The disciples face a crisis and freak out. Jesus asks them where there faith is.

The demons face a crisis and freak out because they know who Jesus really is. He exercises His authority over them and drives them out of the man, who is then healed and sane again.

The people of that region face a crisis and freak out in fear and beg Jesus to leave, which He does.

The man who was now free of the demons demonstrates faith by begging to go with Jesus.

The woman who’d been bleeding for twelve years faces a crisis and exercises her faith and experiences healing. She goes in peace.

Jairus faces a crisis when he realizes his daughter is dying. He has faith in Jesus and begs Him to come heal her, which He does.

The mourners face a crisis by laughing at Jesus. The gospel of Mark tells us Jesus made them leave the house before he raised the little girl to life. Could they have witnessed the miracle themselves if only they’d had faith like Jairus?

What’s your crisis today?

Is it financial? Health-related? A troubled marriage or relationship with a child? An issue at work? Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the state of the world.

You and I really have two choices. We can focus on the circumstances we’re in and freak out OR we can focus on Jesus, exercise faith in Him and experience His joy and peace.

I don’t know what Jesus will do in response to your faith. I wish I could tell you the crisis will be immediately resolved. That probably won’t happen. And I wish I could tell you it will be easy to focus on Jesus and trust Him. It won’t be.

Keeping your eyes on Jesus and trusting Him will require diligence. Your circumstances will cry out for your undivided attention. Whatever situation you’re in will feel more real than Jesus does.

But don’t give up. Make the choice to see your circumstances through the eyes of Jesus. Know beyond any doubt there’s nothing too hard for Him. Bring Jesus into the midst of your fears, worries and weaknesses. He sees. He understands. And He’s at work right now.


Prayer for a Breakthrough

Posted: January 30th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I don’t want to suffer. I know you don’t either.

We want good health for ourselves and those we love. We want to always have enough money to pay the bills with some left over. We want our relationships, especially with family members, to bring us joy and satisfaction. We want to be successful in our work. And we want our neighborhood, our city, our country and our world to be a safe place to live. And when we pray about something, we want God to answer. Sooner than later.

Does that pretty well capture what we want?

I’ll be honest. I don’t want to walk by faith. I don’t. A few days ago, I wrote a post on this site about seeking and trusting God. And really, that’s what this blog has been about for the past seven years. But if I’m honest, I have to admit I don’t really want to be in a position to have to trust God.

I want all of my needs met today, not tomorrow. I don’t even want to know how things will work out in the future, because that implies they’re not worked out today. And that makes me uncomfortable. And I don’t want to be uncomfortable. I know you don’t either.

That’s just not reality though. It’s not the way life works. It’s not the way God works.

James 1:2-4 says:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James is cluing us in to how life really works. And it’s contrary to the way we want it to work. It’s contrary to the way the world system tells us it should work. It’s even contrary to the way some Christians tell us life should work. We’re told that if we just have enough faith then we’ll have all the money we want and we’ll be healed of every sickness.

That’s not true though. My good friend died from colon cancer last year. He had great faith.

James doesn’t say “if” troubles come our way, he says “when” they do, we’re to consider it an opportunity for great joy. Yeah, I wish it didn’t work that way either, but it does.

We’re to consider troubles to be joy because we know that when our faith is tested, our endurance grows. When our endurance is fully developed, we enter into a new dimension of relationship with God where we discover He’s all we need, that in Him, we lack nothing.

When we pray for “breakthroughs”, I think what we’re really praying for is a quick way out of our troubles. At least that’s what I’m doing. It sounds something like this: “Oh God, please help me! I need a breakthrough today!” We want an end to the suffering today, don’t we? Have you ever prayed for a breakthrough to come in six months? Me either.

Maybe the better prayer is not for a breakthrough, but a go-through: “Oh God, give me the wisdom and strength to go through these troubles. Increase my faith. Help my endurance grow. Help me see I need You more than I need comfortable and pleasant circumstances.”


Do You Make This Serious Error?

Posted: January 19th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

In Mark 12, some religious folks have come to Jesus to try and trap Him. These guys didn’t believe there was a resurrection. When you’re dead, that’s it, they said. No afterlife. So they come to Jesus with a question they think will trip him up.

They present this hypothetical situation where a woman gets married, but before she has a child, her husband dies. The law stated that the man’s brother should marry the woman, so the family name could be carried on. So she marries the brother. Well, before a child is born to the second brother, he also dies. And so does the third. And the fourth. And so on until all seven brothers are dead.

These religious leaders then ask Jesus this question: “Whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”

With that big set-up, I figure these guys had to be thinking, “Oh boy, we’ve got him now! There’s no way he can talk his way out of this one!”

Jesus replies with these words: “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” He then goes on to explain how it is they’re wrong. And then He ends by saying, “You have made a serious error.”

I wonder if Jesus would say something similar to you and me. Like when we’re feeling anxious or worried. Or afraid. Or when we’re feeling angry or bitter or jealous or resentful. Or when we’re feeling discouraged and are losing hope.

Here’s what I do to get myself in trouble…

I see my circumstances. I analyze the situation. I can’t figure out how to fix whatever problem I’m facing. And so I get anxious. Then I usually analyze some more. But I still can’t fix the problem, so the worry and anxiety get stronger. Then fear creeps in. And if I let the process continue, I’ll sometimes end up with a migraine.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but praying doesn’t always help. And I think I know why. My prayers are usually so focused on the circumstances that I don’t allow God room to even get involved. I keep rehearsing the situation with Him over and over.

If I would listen more, I wonder if what I’d hear him say is: “Whoa! Gregg! Slow down a minute. Let me say something. Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know My power. Why don’t you dig into my Word and find out what I’ve already promised you and then believe Me?”

Could that be your mistake, too? Could you be too focused on what you see rather than what God says?

What circumstances are you facing today that are causing you to feel discouraged or worried or overwhelmed or angry?

Now do you know what God says about your circumstances? If not, then maybe your mistake is the same one I often make. We’ve forgotten what God has already revealed in His Word and we’ve forgotten His power.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is 2 Peter 1:3-4, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”

God has (past tense!) given us everything (not just some things) we need for living a godly life. He has also given us great and precious promises that enable us to be more like Him. The religious leaders who came to Jesus had made a serious error because they didn’t know His power or the Scriptures.

You and I don’t have to make the same mistake.

Read on for a free offer…

If you’re married and would like a free copy of my latest book, “The Intimate Evening Planning Guide,” I’m offering it for free this week on Amazon. Click here to get your copy. This offer is good until Friday, January 23, 2015. If you like it, I’d really appreciate it if you left a review on Amazon. Also feel free to let your friends know.

One other thought related to marriage…if you feel like you and your spouse have drifted apart and no longer feel connected or if you’re “just stuck” and are having trouble moving forward in your relationship, let me encourage you to take advantage of my marriage coaching process. You can learn more by clicking here.

The Intimate Evening Planning Guide 231x300 Do You Make This Serious Error?


The Chief End of Man

Posted: January 16th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The nation of Israel was in slavery to the Egyptians for four hundred years. I wonder what the Jews who were born, lived and died in Egypt during those four hundred years thought. All they knew their entire lives was slavery. They never saw God’s miracles. They never made it to the Promised Land. Maybe Hebrews 11:13-16 was written for men and women like them:

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

If you’re like me, you want trials and difficulties to be over today. If not, yesterday. That doesn’t always happen though. Ten years ago at this time, my dad was battling through the last few months of his fight with leukemia. A year ago, a friend of mine was fighting through the final stages of colon cancer. My dad and my friend would have liked to survive their illnesses. They didn’t want to die. But for them, the trials didn’t end with deliverance, but with death.

Maybe you’re battling a chronic illness today like they were. Or maybe you’ve been trying to repair a marriage or find a job or get pregnant.

And you wonder where God is and when He’s going to help.

Sometimes though, He has something better for us planned than immediate relief. But I’ll be honest, it’s hard to write that or accept that. I don’t want to suffer any more than you do or the Jews in Egypt did. My hope is that your difficult circumstances will come to an end as they eventually did for the generation of Israelites who lived four hundred years after Joseph.

In Exodus 3, God appears to Moses and says, “I am the God of your father–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land.”

God was aware of what the nation of Israel was suffering. He saw. He heard their cries. And He came down to rescue them. He came down to fulfill the promises He had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

He may be coming to rescue you any day now. Don’t lose hope. Keep crying out to Him. Keep seeking Him…not just relief. Keep seeking Him. I too often have made the mistake of only seeking relief from circumstances I didn’t like. I wish I’d spent more time seeking His face. Because sometimes the trials don’t end when or how I want them to. So what I really need is peace and joy in the midst of the hardships.

Mostly, what I’m reminded of today is that life isn’t about you or me. Whether our trials end today or tomorrow or next year isn’t the point.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism is a statement of beliefs completed in 1647 to teach the doctrines of the church. The first question and answer in it is:

Question: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

That’s why you and I exist. It’s why the Jews exist. It’s why they endured hundreds of years as slaves and were eventually led out by Moses. It’s why you are in your circumstances today. And why I’m in mine. If our current circumstances persist, it’s our opportunity to glorify God and enjoy Him. If He brings relief, it’s our opportunity to glorify and enjoy Him.

In the midst of whatever you’re facing today, how can you choose to glorify God and enjoy Him?


Where is God When You Need Him?

Posted: January 8th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Have you ever wondered where God was when you needed him?

I have.

In some dark moments, I’ve raged at Him, “Where are You, God?! Why won’t You do something?! Can’t You see?!”

It can feel like just when we need God the most…He doesn’t show. We desperately cry out for help…but we’re met with silence. A day stretches to a week which stretches to a month which stretches to a year…and longer. And still we wonder where He is and why He’s not helping us.

Last time, we looked at Joseph and how he ended up in prison for years. For a crime he didn’t commit. And yet there’s never any mention of Joseph becoming angry or depressed. We never see him losing hope and giving up.

So what’s going on? How was Joseph able to persevere through a lengthy prison term without becoming angry at his brothers (for selling him as a slave) or at God?

Genesis 39:21 says, “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him His faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden.” The last part of verse 23 says, “The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.”

The same was true of his time as the manager of Potiphar’s  house before he was thrown in prison. Genesis 39:2 says, “The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did…”

Let’s stop here for a minute and consider a couple things. First, Joseph was experiencing God in the midst of circumstances he would never have chosen. No one wants to be betrayed by family members. No one wants to be sold as a slave and taken to a foreign land. No one wants to be falsely accused. No one wants to be wrongfully imprisoned.

When we find ourselves in a situation we don’t like, it doesn’t mean God isn’t with us or actively at work. Maybe God is most at work when our circumstances are the least desirable.

Second, success may not always look like we want it to. Joseph was a successful slave. He was a successful prisoner. I don’t want to be a slave or a prisoner. When I’m in hard circumstances, I want God to change them. Right away. And yet God was at work in and through and for Joseph regardless of the circumstances.

Eventually, after years of imprisonment, Joseph is let out because he’s able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Rather, God reveals to Joseph what the dreams mean and Joseph relays the meanings to Pharaoh. God has warned Pharaoh that a seven-year famine is coming. Pharaoh responds by putting Joseph in charge of the entire nation of Egypt. Joseph makes sure the people stockpile grain so they can survive.

After the plentiful years, the famine hits, not just in Egypt, but in the whole region. Including the land of Canaan where Jacob and his family are living. To make a long story short, Jacob, his family and his descendents are saved because they’re able to buy food from Joseph and eventually move to Egypt to live there.

In Genesis 50:18, Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

During the years as a slave or the years he spent in prison, Joseph couldn’t see what God was up to. Surely, there had to be times he was wondering where God was when he needed Him the most. It was only in hindsight that he could see how God had used his brothers selling him as a slave, Potiphar’s wife falsely accusing him of rape and meeting Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer while in prison to accomplish His greater purposes.

Your current circumstances may not make any sense to you.  You may feel like God has forgotten you.

But He hasn’t.

He’s at work where you are, even if you can’t see it or sense His presence. Trust Him. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. He is at work in you, around you and for you.


When the Waiting Doesn’t End

Posted: January 1st, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

DSCN1111 300x225 When the Waiting Doesnt EndWhat are you waiting for?

A spouse?

A baby?

A job?

A restored relationship with a child?

Results of a medical test?

Healing?

There’s nothing easy about waiting. Especially when it feels unfair. When the waiting wasn’t brought on by anything you did or didn’t do.

Do you remember the story of Joseph, Jacob’s youngest son? He was Jacob’s favorite son and that made his eleven older brothers jealous. Of course, Joseph didn’t help himself by telling his brothers about the dreams he had about them bowing down to him. Joseph may have lacked diplomacy, but most teenagers do.

When his brothers see an opportunity to get rid of Joseph, they take it. They sell him to some traders on their way to Egypt. Once in Egypt, they sell him to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials. God is with Joseph causing everything he touches to prosper. It’s not long before Potiphar puts everything in his household under Joseph’s leadership.

Meanwhile, his brothers report to their father that Joseph was killed by some kind of wild animal. They even take Joseph’s coat and dip it in some blood, so Jacob will be convinced. Nice guys, his brothers.

Joseph is not only a capable leader, he’s a good looking guy, which catches the attention of Potiphar’s wife. She is constantly after him to sleep with her. And Joseph is constant in his refusals. One day when they’re alone together, she again demands he sleep with her. When he tries to leave, she grabs his cloak, which he leaves behind. She’s had enough of his rejection, so she falsely accuses him of trying to rape her. Potiphar is furious and has Joseph thrown into prison.

And there he languishes. Innocent. Falsely accused. Unfairly imprisoned.

The head of the prison gives Joseph some responsibility and soon everything under his leadership is going well because God is still with him. Still though, Joseph is a slave, in prison, in a country not his own, for something he didn’t do.

After some time has passed, a couple of Pharaoh’s officials end up in prison with Joseph. They each have a dream one night and God reveals the meanings to Joseph. When one of the officials is released from prison, as Joseph had predicted, he returns to his service to Pharaoh. Genesis 40 ends with this sentence, “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”

Waiting is hard, but isn’t it even harder when you’re waiting and you get a glimmer of hope, when it feels like God is about to change your circumstances, when He’s about to come through…and then nothing happens? You thought your spouse was changing, but then reverts back to former behavior. The interview went so well, but there’s no call back. You were sure the next test would show you were getting better, but it doesn’t.

There’s no mention of Joseph losing hope or becoming bitter, but it had to be a struggle for him. Yes, God was with him, but he was just a regular guy. Like you and me. And like us, he had to choose to believe God, not his circumstances, especially because there wasn’t an immediate change for Joseph. Chapter 41 begins this way, “When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream…”

Joseph has already been in prison for some time. And now two more years pass.

That’s a long time to wait. And not see an end in sight.

Maybe you can relate. You’ve been waiting and hoping and praying. And there’s no end in sight to your waiting.

Next time, we’ll take a look at what was happening that Joseph couldn’t see. We’ll see how God’s unseen hand was at work. For now, know that God sees you. He knows what you’re going through. He knows your pain and your fears. He knows your frustrations and discouragement.

He has not forgotten you. His peace and joy are available regardless of your circumstances, difficult people, unmet needs and unfulfilled dreams.

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)


God Sees Your Tomorrow

Posted: October 19th, 2014 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Think about time for a moment. You and I know what happened yesterday. At least we think we do. I have to wonder how often we think we know what happened yesterday or last week or ten years ago, but we actually have the story wrong. So let’s say we sort of know what happened in our lives in the past.

We also know what’s happening now. We know what our needs are. We know the status of our relationships. We know how the current conversation is going. We see the condition of the world, how much money we have in the bank and how healthy, or not, we are. But once again, we don’t have the full or even correct picture.

We think we know how we’re being perceived by others, but often we don’t. If you’re married, how often have you made what seemed to you to be an innocent comment only to have it turn into a full blown argument with your spouse? Misunderstandings happen all the time. We think we know a lot more than we really do.

So we have some limited grasp on the past and on the present. What we don’t know is the future. We have no idea what will happen tomorrow or next week. We have our plans. We have our hopes. We have what we think is going to happen, but we can’t see into the future. It’s pretty much a mystery to us.

That’s never more evident than in Genesis 15 where God speaks to Abram (later he becomes Abraham) in a vision. He tells Abram, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”

In Genesis 12, God had promised to make Abram into a great nation, but some time later, Abram and his wife Sarai (later she becomes Sarah) still have no children. So when God tells Abram to not be afraid and that He will protect and reward him, Abram does what any of us would do. He looks at the past. He looks at the present. And he replies to God with:

“O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”

I was struck by the words “since” and “so.” Abram considers his past and his present situation and draws a logical conclusion. “Since you’ve given me no children…a servant…will inherit all my wealth…so one of my servants will be my heir.”

I do that all the time. I evaluate my circumstances and draw a wrong conclusion. God may have said one thing, but because I can’t see how it can be true, I believe something different. And that almost always leads to fear, worry or anxiety. Isn’t it interesting that the very first thing God says to Abram is, “Do not be afraid.”

What are you afraid of today? What’s worrying you? What circumstances or situations have you evaluated, analyzed and agonized over and still not figured out how to fix?

Here’s what we, or at least I, fail to remember: God is never limited by what has already happened or what is happening now. He is never limited by anything or anyone. There’s no situation too hard for Him. He sees what He will do tomorrow. And next week. And six months from now.

Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”

When God makes a promise, He not only has the ability to fulfill it, He already knows exactly how He will do it. He sees it as already done. There truly is no reason for us to worry. No reason to panic. No reason to become discouraged and quit. Like Abram, there’s really just one correct response:

And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.