Learning to see obstacles as opportunities takes time.
Recalling certain truths can help our perspective:
GOD IS AT WORK. As barriers remain in place and our situation seems unchanged, God is orchestrating people and events to move His plan forward. He works silently, invisibly, and effectively.
GOD PREPARES THE WAY. He has already decided in His mind which hindrances to remove and which to leave unaltered. For the obstacles that remain, the Lord will arrange a way around them or fit them into His plan. What He has determined will be accomplished.
GOD REQUIRES OUR COOPERATION. He wants us to be ready to face difficult situations. Through His Word, He communicates what we need to know and also equips us (Hebrews 13:20-21).
GOD IS PERSONALLY INVOLVED. He wants to develop in us a greater sensitivity to His presence. Through Scripture, prayer, and other believers, we can receive the assurance that the Lord is near.
GOD GIVES CLEAR INSTRUCTION. He does not bring confusion. Whether we receive His direction in stages or all at once, He asks us to trust in Him rather than our own thinking (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Facing challenges involves courage, patience, and faith. It takes courage to accept the presence of barriers, to move in step with God, and to do what He asks. Patience is required as we wait for Him to equip us and reveal His plan. Faith is necessary for us to trust God with the outcome and to focus on obeying Him.
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, August 15, 2017.
Nothing is impossible for the heavenly Father. No obstacle confuses God or poses any kind of challenge for Him. Though we know He is sovereign over every situation, we have trouble maintaining this perspective, just like the disciples in today’s passage-Matthew 17:14-21. Too often when difficulties arise we…
EXPERIENCE A SHIFT IN FOCUS. During trials, we tend to take our eyes off the Lord and instead see only our problems. The longer we look at our circumstance, the larger it seems. As we dwell on it in thought and conversation, our mind-set can become very negative. Though God still has a direction for us to take, we are no longer concentrating on His purposes.
DEVELOP AN INCORRECT ASSESSMENT OF RESOURCES. In our troubles, we start taking inventory of our own strength and abilities. When they prove insufficient, we become discouraged. The truth is that we don’t have what is needed for life’s trials – Jesus Himself told us that. (See John 15:5.) But God’s capabilities are unlimited, His power is never-ending, and His wisdom is complete. We need to take stock of His resources, not our own.
VIEW OBSTACLES AS BARRIERS. For the obedient believer, impediments represent opportunities, not problems. The Lord can demonstrate His awesome power through our difficulties. (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.) At such times, we grow in our faith and learn more about our Father. If we view hardships simply as troubles, then we can miss demonstrations of God’s love, power, and wisdom.
Start each day committed to a Christ-centered focus, a dependence on His resources, and an “opportunity” mindset.
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, August 14, 2017.
In Isaiah 55:8, God declared, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” And in fact, one of the biggest frustrations of the Christian life stems from a lack of understanding about God’s ways. There are times when we could really use a miracle, but He does not come through for us the way we think He should. Our unmet expectations lead to confusion, disappointment, and even anger. We might think, Why did the Lord let me down?
Some people don’t believe God performs big miracles at all, while others are convinced that if He’s not doing the miraculous every day, then something is wrong with their faith. Neither belief is true. We need a balanced perspective, which we find in the Bible.
God works in both supernatural and ordinary ways, and He determines the method. Elijah ate food miraculously delivered by ravens, but his water supply from a brook was completely natural. When the water dried up, the Lord could have made more spring from the ground, but He didn’t.
Sometimes God uses ordinary means to move us in a new direction. The curtailment of Elijah’s water supply opened the door for his next assignment. When the Lord withholds miraculous intervention and lets your brook dry up, He has something else planned for you.
Seeing the work of God in the miraculous is easy. But He’s just as involved in the everyday aspects of life as He is in any supernatural event. Look for His fingerprint in the day’s mundane activities. He is there, opening and closing doors, drying up one opportunity but initiating another.
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, August 2, 2017.
The pathway of faith has divine purpose, and we’re to obey the Lord, no matter what. But even when God’s direction is perplexing, we can count on the fact that He is good.
Walking obediently with Christ doesn’t guarantee an easy life, which is obvious when we consider Paul. He encountered all kinds of hardships, including shipwreck, persecution, and beatings (2 Cor. 11:23-27). Keep in mind, though, that nothing can touch a child of God without the Father’s loving permission. He uses difficulty to strengthen and correct believers – and eventually as a tool in achieving His plan. Also remember that the Lord protects His followers in their suffering, just as He kept the apostle safe in situations that seemed impossible to overcome.
Adversity can tempt us to ignore the Holy Spirit’s guidance. But we will ultimately regret such a decision, as God doesn’t spare us from the consequences of our sin. However, He never lets go of His children, whom He will continue to protect and guide throughout life.
Walking in obedience and trust is the only way to true peace. As Paul sat in an uncomfortable Roman prison where his life was in danger, he encouraged believers not to worry but to trust the Lord and pray with gratitude (Isa. 26:3; Phil. 4:6). Doing so leads to experiencing His perfect peace.
The only wise way to live is to believe in almighty God and follow wherever He leads. That is the road to contentment, fulfillment, protection, and peace. Are you journeying on the pathway of faith? Or is something holding you back from all God intended for our life?
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, July 28, 2017.
God has promised to supply all our needs, yet fulfillment is sometimes slow in coming. What could be the problem? Perhaps we are.
When our Father fails to meet our expectations, we generally look outside ourselves for the reason. But while God’s love is unconditional, many of His promises are not. For example, Philippians 4:19 is a “family promise” – it can be claimed only by those who rightly call the Sovereign of the universe “Father.” His unlimited resources are not available to men and women who reject salvation through Jesus Christ. Moreover, when we look at the whole framework of Scripture, we see that the Lord makes obedience a condition for fulfilling our needs. (See Ps. 81:10-12.) He will not condone sin by blessing us while we rebel against Him.
Think of yourself as part of an army at war – which is what you are, in a spiritual sense. A top military priority is to keep the supply line open, as victory is impossible if the soldiers are weaponless, cold, and starving. Our willful disobedience allows Satan to cut our supply line from the Lord. Restoring that connection is a matter of repentance. Those who walk in God’s way are protected, provided for, and satisfied (Ps. 81:13-16).
Taking a promise out of its biblical context is very dangerous. And expecting God to keep a conditional pledge when we aren’t meeting its requirements is even more unwise. The heavenly Father keeps His word but rightfully expects us to do our part. Thankfully, His expectations of us are not burdensome but reasonable: What He requires is that we simply love, honor, and obey Him.
Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch Devotional, July 7, 2017.
Take the actual steps laid out in God’s word to be nearer to the Lord-He wants to meet our needs. Taking any other steps are no steps at all.
God’s Spirit indwells believers at salvation, which means His power is available from that moment (Eph. 1:13). God created a simple way for us to access that strength every single day.
First, we must accept the truth that in and of ourselves, we are powerless to live out God’s will. No matter how capable we may be, our own strength and wisdom are insufficient. Sometimes Christians become prideful about the good they have done or the number of years they’ve been saved. Imagine how much more we could serve the Lord if we would humbly get out of God’s way and let Him work through us.
Second, we surrender our entire life to the guidance and governing of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we choose to conduct our spiritual walk – as well as our vocation, finances, family, and relationships – as God desires. His Spirit is not going to release supernatural power into a life that is continuing in rebellion.
Third, we exercise faith, which means demonstrating belief and trust in the Lord. Faith is the “switch” that releases the Spirit’s power. It’s like saying, “I believe You’ve got a plan, God, so I’m going to trust You to give me what I need in order to do Your will.” Then He will move heaven and earth to provide for your need, whatever it may be.
Merely memorizing and reviewing the steps isn’t enough. Instead, commit to these principles as a way of life. Get used to thinking, I can’t but God can – I’ll submit to His will because His plans are for my good and His glory. That’s the kind of life that overflows with the Holy Spirit.
Commentary from the In Touch devotional, by Charles Stanley, June 30, 2017.
In situations when God is testing us, He will teach us new and deeper truths about Himself, His purposes, and His promises. Though we feel stretched in painful seasons, such difficulties are always designed to be beneficial.
From a human perspective, times of testing can be baffling, because we don’t understand how anything good could result. Consider God’s command that Abraham sacrifice his long-awaited son Isaac. Abraham’s earthly viewpoint could have regarded this order as:
UNREASONABLE. “I cherish my son above all else. How could you ask this?”
UNTIMELY. “Why now, Lord? My son is still young. He is the one through whom my descendants are to come.”
UNFAIR. “It’s not right that You ask this. Haven’t I left home to follow You?”
UNBEARABLE. “This is too hard for me. I cannot take this pain.”
Abraham rejected that kind of thinking. Instead, he trusted God. The trial revealed Abraham’s unshakable commitment to the Lord’s plan.
Knowing which circumstances will help us grow, our Father asks us to exercise faith and choose His way. Recalling His unending love and wholehearted commitment to His children will help us do this. Be assured that God makes no mistakes in His dealings with us.
Imagine Abraham’s joy when the Lord provided a ram as a sacrifice in Isaac’s place. We will receive that same reward of spiritual joy when we remain steadfast.
Commentary from the In Touch devotional by Charles Stanley, June 19, 2017.
It has been said that “God prefers reluctant obedience rather than joyful disobedience.” But this statement is misleading. When we first learn to obey God, we sometimes do so reluctantly because we leave the familiar territory of doing as we please to discover the uncharted waters of yielding our will to His. But once we understand that obedience to the Lord produces joy in our life, we also begin to realize that there is no such thing as “joyful disobedience.” For, in fact, ignoring God’s directives is a joy stealer.
Alan Redpath states it this way: “When there’s disobedience in the Christian life, the fullness ceases. And you soon know when you’ve lost the fullness because the joy is gone.”
If you find that you are resisting obedience to God in some area of your life, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” because no matter how vigorously you try to justify disobedience in your life, you can never replace the joy that is lost when you say “No” to God.
Dear Christian, run to do His will, and lay hold of the resulting joy that God has provided for those who obey Him. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain, for a joyful heart stems from an obedient heart.
“Obedient submission is the only way to joy.” Charles Stanley
Commentary from the Pathways devotional by David Jeremiah, June 9.