Trust Does Not Come Easily

January 17, 2023 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Rachel Indihar –

If there’s one common issue in most Christians’ spiritual lives, it would be trust. Trusting that God will provide, trusting that God will come through in a problem, and most importantly…trusting that God really is enough.

I’ve struggled with trust for most of my spiritual life. Having gone through challenging situations including depression, the death of a parent, and job concerns, I sometimes ask God, “Do you really understand what I’m going through? Are you really there for me? Will you help me?” Sometimes I receive an answer to a prayer, and other times I don’t.

God is greater than our circumstances and greater than our doubts and fears. I understand this and accept this, but in my daily life I have trouble living it out. Most of us aren’t living radical Christian lives because fear and anxiety are eating us up inside. We struggle to contain the dozens of fears that fester at the edges of our minds. We can’t escape the lies and whispers of Satan who asks, “Can you really trust God? Is He really all you need?”

I hate to admit it, but there have been several occasions where I have struggled with these lies. It’s only been recently that God has led me to a powerful truth: sometimes you must act on God’s promises before you can fully start to believe them.

What do I mean by this? Simply that if you wait to experience the emotion of complete trust, you may be waiting a long time. But if you repeat to yourself the promises of God in His Word, even when you mentally have doubts and fears, you will find that those fears are quenched when you live out the promises in the Bible. Soon you believe what you are telling yourself.

For example, many Christians love Psalm 37:3-4: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (NIV).

But remember what comes after that: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:5-6 NIV).

The reward for trusting and delighting in the Lord is righteousness and receiving your heart’s desire (which is Jesus). But these rewards come after you trust. Trust is a decision of the will and sometimes is made when your emotions don’t support that decision. However, act on your desire to trust the Lord and soon you will find that trust comes more easily.

Worried About Money?

December 18, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Rachel Indihar  –

Like a lot of teenagers, I took money for granted. I wanted to go to France when I was fifteen and assumed that my mother could afford to pay for the trip. Growing up in middle-class suburbia, I was fortunate to be able to attend plenty of summer camps and field trips. I praise God now that I was able to do all these things without worrying about what it was costing my parents.

Now that I’m an adult and living on my own, I realize that “supporting yourself” means more than just paying for rent and food. I also have to pay for electricity, Internet, dental and medical insurance, and the never-ending college debt. Only after that is all paid can I consider spending money on activities for my own enjoyment.

Although I am single, I’m already starting to worry about the future and the possibility of one day supporting a family. The cost of raising one child to adulthood in America has been estimated to cost $10,000 or more. Regardless of whether this is an accurate estimate, I worry that I won’t be able to give my future children all they need and deserve.

When Jesus was on earth more than two thousand years ago, humanity shared our concerns about money. Although they didn’t have to pay for medical insurance or send their children to college, people still had plenty of fears about supporting themselves.

And what was Jesus’ response? Did he tell them to buy more stocks or lottery tickets? Quite the opposite: “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, —you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:27-31 NIV).

Remember the story of Ruth? She had lost what was considered in those days her life insurance: her husband. A widow who could not find a new husband and was not taken in by her family was the least fortunate of all. No one had more reason to worry than Ruth and Naomi. And yet, how did God provide for them? A wonderful kinsman-redeemer named Boaz saved both women from poverty, and through their marriage a son came into the world who was in the direct family line of Jesus. It’s more than a good story with a happy ending; it’s proof that God cares for and provides for those who love and trust Him.

Happy endings and good results do not always happen instantly when we pray. Jesus did not guarantee an easy life to His followers. However, through heartfelt trust in Him and constant prayer, our faith in God can lift us up above our circumstances and give us peace within the storm. And who knows? Our own Boaz may appear when we least expect him.

A homework assignment for those ready to look through God’s promises: search the Bible, especially the Psalms, for verses that have the word “trust” in them. Ex: Psalm 31:14-15

A Heart of Praise

November 22, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Rachel Indihar –

Many of us have heard extraordinary stories of Christians. These are not the stories about Mr. and Mrs. Smith, who have two children (a boy and a girl), work successful 9-to-5 jobs, and attend church on Sunday mornings. Those stories are not inspiring because they remind us of our own lives!

The stories that truly encourage us are the real-life stories about Christians who risk their lives for their beliefs, live in the power of the Holy Spirit, and share the Gospel with hundreds (if not thousands) of people.

The problem is that many of us have believed that these stories are rare. They happen every 50 to 100 years to one person in one particular country. When we have this perception, we lose our passion for Christ and conform to the “Mr. and Mrs. Smiths” that the secular world requires us to be. How do we gain the passion and enthusiasm for Jesus Christ that people like Corrie Ten Boom, Billy Graham, and Hudson Taylor have possessed?

The secret may surprise you: It all has to do with praise. Not the typical “praise and worship” pop songs we hear on the radio that we like to sing along to, but praise as in I’m-consumed-with-the-Holy-Spirit, I-will-die-for-Christ, Christ-is-my-everything type of praise!

When we are filled with the spirit of praise, a miraculous thing happens: we stop focusing on ourselves! I’m convinced that the biggest hindrance in our Christian growth is an obsessive focus on ourselves. OUR needs, OUR time, OUR talents and interests. We want to praise God WHILE getting what we want in this life. Our selfish interests and ambitions have to die in order to fully gain Christ. When we stop focusing on ourselves, OUR desires become GOD’S desires!

The next time you are consumed by negative emotions, such as anger, envy, depression, or anxiety, instead of trying to “talk yourself out of” that emotion, try switching your thoughts entirely to God and praise Him for all of His blessings in your life. If you are struggling to create a list of blessings, you are forgetting that the greatest blessing is Jesus Christ Himself, who is all we need in this life and in the life to come.

“I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strength you…so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me…I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:5-7 NIV).

Our Connection to Animals

November 14, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Rachel Indihar –

I have a new cat in my household who is hiding beneath my desk. After spending her entire life (six whole years) with a kind human family, she was dropped into a strange environment with a strange new person. She stopped crying after an hour and occasionally lets out a pitiful, low “meow.”

My research from books and the internet tells me to leave her alone. Unlike humans, cats need to be left to themselves when frightened and upset. New territory and new company may be invigorating to some of us, but to a cat who prides itself on dominating its territory, such a big change can be depressing.

I play soothing music and try not to look her in the eye (cats hate a direct stare because they can see it as confrontational). It seems to work: she is sleeping and appears content. I feel a strange empathy with this animal, a sort of “connection” with her. I, too, have wanted to hide underneath something large and cower until the situation changes itself. I have felt abandoned and depressed, watching as the world swirls around me and uncomfortable situations present themselves.

My research tells me that a cat brought to a new home can stay in hiding for days or even weeks. Eventually, however, the animal will start to wander around its new environment and claim its territory. And, of course, human and pet bonding should start to develop around this time. Does a cat eventually forget about its previous household and companions? I can’t answer that question, but millions of cat owners have acquired an adult cat from somewhere else with no (permanent) harm done to the animal.

What about our own lives? Are our own lives as predictable as a cat’s? Do we know that eventually we’ll feel comfortable enough to come out from underneath the desk and explore confidently? This is perhaps where our connection with animals ends, for our lives and minds are more complicated than a household pet’s. But is there something we can learn from my cat’s experience?

Sometimes our lives seem out of control, as if God has lost the map for our lives and He is steering us off-course. Is this true? The Bible says it is not, for God knows the number of our days and exactly what happens in each of them (see Psalm 139:16). Nothing is a surprise to Him, and in that is our lifelong hope.

God sees us when we’re hiding underneath the desk, and He beckons with love for us to come out and face life confidently. Remember all of God’s promises in the Bible concerning His loved ones: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2 NIV).

If God will never leave us and all of our days are in His capable hands, why do we even seek a hiding spot? For “God is our refuge and strength”, ready to hold our hand when we stumble and when we seek an escape.

God calls us by our own name, just like I call my cat by her name: Minou (which means “kitty” in French). Are we going to respond to the Lord when He calls us, or are we going to hide? The choice is up to us.

Obedience and Walking in the Spirit

October 20, 2022 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions

By Rachel Indihar –

We all have habits and/or personality traits that we wish we could change. Some of these are minor and won’t affect our spiritual walk, such as twirling our hair when we’re nervous. However, other habits have a deep impact on our spiritual lives and can lead to us drifting away from the Lord.

For example, all of my life I’ve had trouble waking up in the morning without hitting my snooze button a few times. In college I had the terrible habit of sleeping through a class occasionally if I didn’t feel well. It’s easy to give your body what it wants when you’re half asleep and the “off” button on the alarm is inches away. The problem is that the habit of sleeping in and ignoring my alarm has continued into my adult life. Why? Because it’s a habit I perfected over many years. A dangerous habit.

A few months ago I felt the Lord asking me to get up early to do my devotions, because I don’t have time when I get home from work. He asked me to get up at 6:00 am so that I had around two hours to meditate on His Word and eat breakfast before going to work. This spiritual discipline would help me prepare for the day and keep my focus on Jesus instead of my anxieties or problems.

Well, you can foresee the problem. The alarm would ring at 6:00 am, and I – who never feels good early in the morning – would quickly change the alarm to 7:00 am…and then 7:30 am…and soon I’d be waking up at 7:45 when I had to leave for work by 8:15. And suddenly POOF! My entire devotional time was gone.

At first I didn’t think this was a problem, because I thought I could find time later to study the Bible. However, as time went on, I realized that the morning really was the best time to read without being distracted by my To-Do list. The Lord was telling me to do something that was hard on my body but good for my soul. It was something I needed to do in order to get through the day.

This disobedience has lasted for weeks, with some successes, but many failures. I’ve been frustrated, irritated and depressed as I keep asking myself, “Why can’t I do it? Why can’t I obey the Lord?”

In Romans 8, Paul speaks to fellow believers about walking in the Spirit and denying the flesh. He says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8 ESVUK).

Paul is telling believers back then and today that we cannot obey the Lord when our minds are focused on our flesh (i.e. our own selfish needs, wants, desires, etc.) I can have all the motivation and inspiration to wake up at 6:00 am the night before, but when 6:00 am eventually rolls around and I’m focused on how tired I am or on my headache, I will hit the snooze button. I don’t want to or intend to disobey God, but when I don’t pray for help from the Holy Spirit in the morning, I am going to fail. I am going to disobey God.

If you have a bad habit or character trait that you wish to change, don’t try to get rid of it in your own strength! Pray for wisdom and strength from the Holy Spirit, and He will give it to you. Then you will have success that comes from the Lord, not from your own doing. Later when people say to you, “How did you give up (fill in the blank)? How did you change that deeply ingrained habit?”

You can smile and say, “It wasn’t me. God gave me the strength I needed so that I could succeed. I succeeded in His strength, not my own.”

All glory and praise to our Father when we concur bad habits and change our lives. For we could not do it without Him.