Nothing Is Too Hard

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God had a staggering goal for an engaged couple from the town of Nazareth about 65 miles north of Bethlehem—long before anyone understood the significance of Christmas.

Joseph was a blue-collar worker with strong, calloused hands. He made hand-crafted furniture and other things out of olive wood inside a small woodshop behind his parents’ house, where he learned the trade of carpentry from his father.

Mary was a gracious woman with a kind and gentle heart. She grew up working alongside her mother—cooking meals, making clothes and helping neighbors. She enjoyed working at home, where she learned to care for her family and others.

Joseph and Mary loved each other—and were excitedly preparing for their wedding day. But one day, an angel surprised and told Mary that she’d miraculously give birth to a son while still a virgin—and that her son would be the Savior of the world. When she asked about this seemingly impossible feat, the angel simply said, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Imagine the overwhelming assignment that confronted them. Mary was a young virgin—and she was going to have a baby without ever being with Joseph or any other man. Joseph was a respected carpenter—and his fiancée was going to be mysteriously pregnant soon. That’s why Mary was scared and reflective—and Joseph was confused and angry. But God didn’t leave them to handle this bigger-than-life situation alone. He strengthened and guided them.

In the same way, God doesn’t assign tasks or goals to us today that we can’t achieve. God’s goals for us are possible, certain and achievable—because he empowers and helps us. That’s why we can trust God when his will for us seems impossible—and say with Mary, “Behold, the bond-slave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

So, let me ask you:  if God wants something done, can it be done? In other words, if God has a goal for your life, can it be blocked? Can it be anything but certain and possible?

I’m convinced that no goal God has for my life is impossible or uncertain, nor can it be blocked. Imagine God saying, “I’ve called you into existence, I’ve made you my son or daughter and I’ve got something for you to do. I know you won’t be able to do it, but give it your best shot.”

That’d be like saying to your youngest child, “I want you to mow the yards today. Unfortunately, the grass is extra tall and full of rocks. The mower doesn’t work, and there’s no gas. But give it your best shot.” That’d be a crazy expectation!

Our heavenly Father is far more gracious, powerful and wiser than the best parent in the world.

I like the prophet’s perspective and prayer:  “Ah Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17). That’s why we can always rely on our awesome Father for strength and help.

That’s also why we—like Joseph and Mary—can trust our all-powerful Father and dare to believe that nothing is too hard or impossible for him!

No More Baby Food

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I enjoy eating great food—and lots of it.

I like grilled Santa Maria tri-tip and wild Alaskan salmon. Beef tacos and pork tamales. Double cheeseburgers and strawberry shakes. Spicy chicken sandwiches and sweet potato fries.

But let me assure you, I don’t like eating Gerber’s baby food. Drinking milk from a warm bottle. Sitting in a high chair. Wearing a bib. Getting spoon-fed. Settling for mashed peas, yellow squash and apple sauce.

Sure, I drank and ate like a baby—60 years ago. But I stopped eating tasty paste out of a jar, and started enjoying all kinds of good food. I grew adult teeth and got a hearty appetite. I grew into the frame of a 6-foot, 3-inch athlete and ate ravenously—four times a day!

How’s your spiritual appetite?

When we come to faith, we start out on the Christian adventure as spiritual infants, desiring and drinking the milk of the Word. But as we grow in Christ, we should eventually drop our bottles and ditch our spoons—and start devouring the Scriptures.

That’s why Peter wrote, “Like newborn babes, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (2 Peter 2:2). From the get-go, God’s goal for us is to grow in Christ, and live as spiritually mature adults.

If we want to grow spiritually strong, we must learn how to feast on the Scriptures. We must stop spooning pureed pork chops, and start chewing Biblical beef steaks.

That’s why God invites us to devour his Word. Explore it. Study it. Memorize and meditate on it. Figure it out. Feast on it. That’s also why God expects us to start feeding ourselves—and stop relying on others.

The apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy—and all of us, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). That’s why we should diligently study the Scriptures.

In a nutshell—as Bible students—we look, listen and learn. We explore the Word of God. We look for treasures. We study and share what it says. We bulk up as believers, and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:18).

One of my mentors taught me this principle of priority:  “No Bible, no breakfast.” That’s a good rule of thumb for all of us.

More than ever, I believe the Scriptures nourish and strengthen our souls, fuel us to think and live Biblically, and equip us to serve our Savior and love people in a spiritually starved world.

That’s why I read and study God’s Word. That’s why I feast on the Scriptures. That’s why I’m growing stronger in Christ.

Facing Life’s Disasters

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On the morning of April 18, 1906, a massive earthquake shook the city of San Francisco.

The quake lasted less than a minute, but its swift and powerful impact was disastrous. Buildings collapsed. People were trapped, injured and killed. Fires ignited around the city and burned for days, destroying nearly 500 city blocks.

First responders jumped into action, but their task was daunting. The city was in chaos—and its people were in shock. They shuddered again when authorities reported that the quake and fires killed an estimated 3,000 people and left half of the city’s 400,000 residents homeless.

Aid poured into San Francisco from around the country and the world, but the grieving survivors ached inside and faced weeks of hardship. They slept inside tents in city parks and the Presidio, stood in long food lines and cooked in the streets to lessen the threat of more fires.

Without doubt, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. Thousands died. Families grieved. Suffering was everywhere, just like the rubble.

When’s the last time you were surprised and slammed by the stuff of life?

Perhaps you’re struggling today because something awful has rocked your world. Maybe you’re grieving after burying a child or spouse. Aching inside after receiving divorce papers. Trying to survive after losing your job. Waiting for a prodigal son or daughter to come home.

When we hear the roar, feel the rumble and see the rubble of life’s disasters—we often feel anything but confident, hopeful and strong. It’s as if we can’t see, hear or feel God—and we doubt if he’s there and wonder if he cares.

Maybe things look bleak and you feel weak today. Perhaps you’re discouraged. You can’t make sense of anything—and feel abandoned and confused. You’re on the verge of giving up and losing hope. You’re broken, alone and exhausted—and going down for the count.

If that’s a snapshot of your shattered world, take a moment to reflect on this Biblical principle:  there’s no problem too big that God can’t solve it.

David believed and understood this amazing principle. But sometimes, especially when life was coming apart at the seams, he ignored it—and tried to handle things on his own.

In those misguided moments, David trusted his abilities and focused on his circumstances. Wrestled with his emotions and stiff-armed God’s provision of strength, perspective and hope. Questioned God’s timing and doubted his goodness and grace.

Eventually, David would look up from his pit of despair, cry to God for help and then sing:

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise …” (Psalm 40:1-3).

If you’re trapped in a pit of discouragement today—now is the time to cry to God for help, wait for him to lift you and trust him to turn your feeling of hopelessness into a testimony of praise!

Finding Hope

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Do you talk to yourself?

Sometimes—when I’m working on a project or problem—I’ll think things through by talking out loud to myself. I find it helpful, but it can be a little embarrassing if someone catches me—even though talking to ourselves is something we do every day.

The Jewish psalmists did the same thing and more. They wrote down their “conversations”. One psalmist challenged himself to experience inner peace by remembering God’s goodness:  “Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you” (Psalm 116:7). He knew God’s goodness in the past can be a comfort and help in the present.

King David remembered things from the past that renewed his courage and confidence in the present. He recalled how God provided:  (1) strength to protect his father’s sheep, (2) courage to oppose Goliath when no Israeli warrior would fight him, (3) savvy to rout and defeat his many enemies, and (4) conviction to admit his sin and make things right. And a lot more.

When David struggled, he often wrote and sang about what he was thinking and feeling. Three times he penned the same words, and challenged himself, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5,11; 43:5).

Another time, David tells himself, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.” (Psalm 42:5-6).

In those moments, David came to grips with his difficult circumstances and erratic emotions by talking to himself, remembering God’s greatness and goodness and putting his hope in God

In our moments, we can follow David’s example of hopeful thinking and living.

We may feel like the bottom is dropping out. The roof is caving in. The walls are collapsing. Things are falling apart—and we can’t do anything about it. We may feel insecure, vulnerable and defeated. We may think we’re outnumbered.

That’s why when life clobbers us with extra-giant-sized problems, it’s easy to lose perspective on what’s true about God—and hard to trust him. It’s easy to get discouraged—and hard to stay encouraged. It’s easy to lose hope—and hard to find it.

But always remember:  when things look hopeless, and you feel helpless, you can trust and ask God for strength, hope and joy in the midst of your adversity.

So, next time you feel like giving up, refuse to take the easy road. Instead, recall the greatness and goodness of God. Remember him. Anchor your hope to him—and praise him. He’ll refresh your perspective, refuel your strength and recharge your hope!