Friday, February 22, 2013

Stuck in the Furnace

“…the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace…” Deut. 4:20


The iron furnace is one place I want to avoid. Yet, I have been there—often. How about you? When life’s struggles keep the heat up higher than I want, I want to escape. I beg to have the thermostat lowered; I cry for the air conditioned room or at least to open a window. Deliverance is my goal. Escape is my only thought. It can feel like I am isolated and alone, fighting to breathe. The enemy would like me to think I am because his plan for me is ugly and raw.


Never thought about the enemy having plans? Oh, he does. And, according to Ephesians 6:10 we need to stand against his schemes. So, when the furnace of affliction heats up, what can we do?


1.      Remember that God promises to be with us no matter what we face

2.      Stay focused on what God says His plans are for you: Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28


When we focus on God’s promises and His plans we keep the enemy from winning a victory in our lives. The enemy wants to takes us down the slippery slope of the Deadly D’s so that we become ineffective in our walk. His plans are to make you:


Doubt which leads to...

Discouragement, which leads to...

Defeat and onto...



Don’t let the enemy drain you of your joy and hope. God is bigger; God is able; He will bring victory when we allow Him to fight for us. Remember the story of Meschach, Shadrach and Abednego (Daniel 3)? They weren’t in the furnace alone.


Jesus promises abundant life, joy and peace beyond our understanding when I keep my eyes on Him. Even in the midst of affliction I can know His presence. I can trust Him to work all things out for good. I will trust Him to deliver me from the heat of affliction and for His Spirit to send a fresh breeze of mercy and grace.


How has the furnace impacted you? Do you have a promise to share with others who may be in the heat of affliction?


May you focus on God’s promises in the midst of your furnace,




For standing firm against the Evil One, study Ephesians 6 about the armor of God.


Monday, February 04, 2013

Half-Empty or Half-Full

Is the glass half-empty or half-full? So much depends on our point of view. I have always been a half-full sort of person until a few years ago. A number of things contributed—most I can’t even remember anymore. All I can say is that sometimes life takes over and things can start to look grim; between  struggles with relationships, events, unexpected news—my stuff—other’s stuff—it doesn’t take long for half-empty to take over.  

This was true for the twelve spies who were sent to scope out the land that was promised to them by God. Moses sent one man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel with instructions to find out all they could about the place they would soon be entering. Moses instructed them to, “See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad?…How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees…?” And, so the twelve men set out to spy the land and bring back a report. 

Upon their return, the men said, “We went into the land…and it does flow with milk and honey…but the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.” 

Caleb said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we certainly can do it.” But, the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread a bad report about the land inciting fear in the people. 

Caleb and Joshua saw half-full. The rest of the spies and the fearful people in Israel saw half-empty. Caleb and Joshua trusted when God said, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.” It was already promised. 

There are so many things I can apply from this story. The biggest one for me is not to allow fear to keep me from entering the place where God is leading. He prepares the way and gives me the faith to overcome my fearful thoughts of half-empty glasses. Despite what the land looks like, or how big the obstacles appear, He will be the one to bring me there. 

I can apply this to my writing, speaking, new ministry, changes in my circumstances, moving to a new place, or an unknown future. Because of my tendency toward fear, I know I need to assimilate this on a daily basis because fear cannot coincide with faith.  

How about you? What have you spied out lately and how does it affect your response to God’s direction?


Read more about the adventure of the twelve spies in Numbers 13 & 14
Quotations above taken from the NIV