Challenges Archives

January 28, 2004

Too Little, Too Late

Exodus 6:9
So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.

Discouragement is one of the greatest weapons of the enemy. It drains our faith and buries our hope. Often, the emotional toll it takes combines with the physical circumstances results in our not having the strength to even hold on to hope. This verse describes the forsaken sense of discouraged people: "shortness" of spirit and cruel bondage. The resevoiur of hope in our lives becomes empty. Even when it is filled a little, it is not enough to sustain a recovery. Combined with oppressive circumstances, belief is in limited supply.

There have been moments where I have found myself discouraged like this. Desperate for deliverance, yet unable to believe it is possible. Still the word of the Lord remains true and his hand strong on behalf of his people. He brings us out, and into a new place of faith and hope for the future.

Lord, thank you for your deliverance from discouragement,

March 23, 2004

Comparing and Coveting

Proverbs 23:18
Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day;
For surely there is a hereafter,
And your hope will not be cut off.

What a good reminder. This chapter is filled with admonishions warning against comparisons and not desire the delicacies of a ruler or of a not over work to be rich...and this one. This proverb reminds me how short-sighted I am, focusing on the temporary instead of the eternal. One of the things I have appreciated about the "40 Days of Purpose" is it's focus on this life being preparation for eternity. This verse puts eternity front and center. It also reminds me what should be consuming me is passion for the Lord. It's so easy to waste emotional energy on things like comparing and coveting.

What a good warning. The way my devotional life as been in 2004 is that my reading in the Bible is a heads up to something I'll face later in the day. So I will be alert to guard my heart and to walk in the fear of the Lord.

June 9, 2004


Psalm 127:1-2
Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows ("anxiety"); For so He gives His beloved sleep.

I was reading in the OT today about Solomon building the temple (1 Kings 5&6). then the sheduled psalm for the day is one of the two credited to Solomon in the whole book. And it's talking about building a house - a house for God. About watching over a community. About overwork and anxiety. All of it has to do with the futility of man's efforts alone, without God's involvement.

I was listening to Ralph Moore's tape of the plenary session from convention last week. He described his personal meltdown. Unable to sleep, fearful of everything, and working hard just to even function on a somewhat normal but impaired level. It is scary what happens when we are "doing" without God. No amount of hard work or attention can prevent the pressure of life from consuming you. Stress becomes the only way you know how to function. I'm fearful that I and Jayme have gone too far down this road. There is no nourishment in adrenaline. There is no rest from the burden of expectations. There is no grace in our good works unless...He is building, He is watching, He is giving.

The words of Jesus are left ringing in my ears: "I will build my church..." "Why do you worry?..."

Lord, I want to sleep. Not literally. But I do want to live in such a way that I have released my today to You and trust You for tomorrow. You build, and I'll work. You guard and I'll keep watch.

December 15, 2008

Down and Out

Micah 7:8 (NKJV)
Do not rejoice over me, my enemy;
When I fall, I will arise;
When I sit in darkness,
The LORD will be a light to me.

I don't know why this verse captured my attention today. I'm not feeling especially persecuted; I don't feel like I'm in the dark (although there are times that both of these are true). But this verse brings perspective to each of these kinds of situations. When I fall, I will get up. Yet so many times failure feels fatal. But it's not. To paraphrase the theologian LL Cool J, "Don't call it a comeback..." With the Lord's help, just get back up.

It's also true when darkness comes. It is disorenting and disconcerting. It's lonely and confusing. But the Lord says, He's the light at the end of the tunnel. He's the illumination that allows me to see where I am and what needs to be done.

Not especially deep today, but rich never the less. I'm sure that this will be something I'll have to turn to sometime in the days/weeks/months ahead.

Lord, be my light. Be my strength.

February 2, 2011

The Wide Place

Psalm 31:8 (NKJV)
...You have set my feet in a wide place.
(The Message)
I'm leaping and singing in the circle of your love;
you saw my pain,
you disarmed my tormentors,
You didn't leave me in their clutches
but gave me room to breathe.

I don't know what the circumstance were that prompted the writing of this Psalm. Commentators say that this could have been written by David or by the prophet Jeremiah. Sometimes a phrase just catches your attention, and that is what happened to me here.

I love the way Eugene Peterson expresses the last part of v8: that God "gave me room to breathe." Sometimes life presses in in such a way that it's hard to catch your breath, like a prisoner to my circumstances, trapped and feeling claustrophobic. Not only will God deliver me, but as the NKJV says it, He "sets my feet in a wide place." One of the things I like to do is to find an open spot overlooking the beach, or a big park filled with trees. I sit and think, and breathe; its one of the ways that I clear my head. It's in the "wide place" that I can sort through my thoughts, address my anxieties, confront my fears, gain perspective, and get "a Word." Whenever life presses in, pressing back doesn't help. I call to Him to set me in a wide place, a safe place, where I can see and hear clearly.

Thank you Lord for the wide places.

About Challenges

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in the Challenges category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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