Will you look up, look out, and look in during tough times? (Image Courtesy of pixabay.com)
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Here are my notes to a devotional that I gave recently at a meeting. I hope these points are an encouragement to you as you are going through hard times.
There are 3 Action Steps that we should take when we are going through tough times: LOOK Up, LOOK Out (or Around), and then LOOK In
1. LOOK UP During Hard Times!
-Look up to GOD in prayer, worship, & reading your bible, when you are going through tough times.
*Psalm 121:1-2: “1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
-Q: Do you know how to create a planet? Do you know how to create a planet and then make it spin in a circle?
-Q: Do you know how to make dirt…from NOTHING?
-Q: Can you create a Sun? Can you create a sun with enough energy to last BILLIONS of years?? …”Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light?”
*POINT: GOD can do all this and infinitely more. THIS is the One we are to “LOOK UP” to when hard times come. He, the Maker of heaven and earth, is our help. He alone is our sufficiency, our trust, and our strong tower. This ONE that creates suns and moons and gravity and roses and oceans and humans and everything else.
During hard times let’s not only LOOK UP but also LOOK OUT (or LOOK AROUND).
2. LOOK OUT or LOOK AROUND During Hard Times!
-Q: What are we looking out or around at?
-A: We are looking out at people.
–We NEED people around us when we are going through hard times. YOU NEED people around you when times are tough. You CANNOT make it through your hard times alone. You need to learn to lean on positive friends, positive family members, encouraging teachers & compassionate adults.
–Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
-Just as Christ bore our burdens on the cross, so we should bear one another’s burdens. If you see a friend carrying a piano, you should go and help that friend carry that piano.
–Hebrews 3:12-13: “12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort [encourage] one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
-Notice that this verse in Hebrews says that we are prone to have an “evil, unbelieving heart” that can cause us to “fall away from the living God.” Also, our hearts can be “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” What is it that can assist us in avoiding this “evil, unbelieving heart” as well as can soften us so that we are not “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”? It is encouragement from other people. We may not realize that our kind words, the hugs we give, and the listening ear that we lend, may actually prevent someone from falling away from God. Our encouragement, in various forms, can actually soften someone’s heart so that they are not “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” We cannot, and must not, underestimate the power of encouragement to our fellow brother or sister in Christ.
-Notice also how often we are to give these encouraging words. We are not just to give these tokens of encouragement on Sundays and Wednesdays, but “as long as it is called ‘today’…” If “today” is called “today,” (and it is!), then it is This day, today, that we encourage others.
-“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. – Proverbs 12:25
-Sometimes all people need is a “good word” to make it through their day.
-You fight sin and temptation best in a positive, encouraging, Christian community.
*POINT: God gives us other people, to lean on during hard times.
During hard times let’s not only LOOK UP, & not only LOOK OUT (or look AROUND), but let’s also LOOK IN.
3. LOOK IN During Hard Times!
-Hard times are valuable because they show us/reveal/uncover who we really are.
-Whenever you squeeze a grape, the contents on the inside are revealed. In the same way, whenever trials are squeezing us, all the evil within our hearts are suddenly uncovered. It can be quite a shocking event to discover that you are not as good as you think you are.
-You may THINK you’re a good Christian, but when hard times hit, you begin to realize how sinful, unbelieving, and proud you really are.
-“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.” – Proverbs 17:3
-God is not testing our hearts so that HE can know what’s there, but He’s testing our hearts to show US what’s there so that we can SEE SIN in our lives and begin to CUT OUT that sin.
-“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. – Proverbs 21:2
–God is being GOOD to us by ALLOWING US to go through HARD TIMES so that we can SEE HIDDEN EVILS & SIN Within our own hearts in order to PREVENT US from making a MESS of our lives and of the LIVES of others!
-God is also showing us that we are not as good as we think we are and that we NEED HIM & the FORGIVENESS of Sins He offers to us in Jesus Christ.
*POINT: During hard times let’s LOOK UP to God, LOOK OUT or AROUND to friends and family for encouragement, & let’s LOOK IN at what God is showing us about our own hearts.
YOUR TURN TO CONTRIBUTE!-I’d Love to hear your comments in the “Leave a Reply” section below!
- What are some specific action steps that you have taken in the past when you’ve gone through tough times?
I’ve recently discovered the work of Dan Miller and have found his ideas about work encouraging and helpful. His business actually started as a Sunday School class and has grown from there into a business helping people find jobs where their talent, passion, and burdens about the world meet so that they can find or create a job they love that is meaningful, fulfilling, and profitable. I’m currently reading Dan’s book “No More Dreaded Mondays” and am finding it stimulating. It is definitely giving me a new meaning to the word “work.” While not an explicitly Christian book, the Christian worldview is within the background, broadly, of this book. If you are unhappy in your job, looking for a job, or out of a job, then I could not recommend Dan’s book and materials enough. I recommend the book and Dan’s podcast called “the 48 days” podcast. All of this is new to me and has been interesting to learn about, so I thought I’d share it with you all.