"Tests are not a plot and conspiracy against you.  A test is to determine what you know, to see if you're ready for the next level (ie - a math test).  Don't moan over tests — count them all joy, and pass them!" — Karen Jensen

From Tragedy to Triumph

You may have had tragedy happen in your life. Or at the very least, disappointments and hurts that have caused you to ask questions, or want to quit.

Maybe your life just hasn’t gone in the direction you wanted it to. Today you might be asking, “How did I end up here?! Why did this happen to me?”

My friend Jeff is an example of someone whose life has gone in a different direction than he expected. But if you ask him, he will testify that despite tragedy, God’s good plan has led him to triumph. He told me I could share his story with you.

In 1993 Jeff was working in a factory with his dad.

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Has Life Surprised You?

Has life thrown you a curve?  Have things happened that you didn’t expect? I think it’s happened to all of us.  I know it’s happened to me!

After my husband died at age 37 (which was definitely a curve!) and I pastored our church in Boise for about four years, the Lord began to deal with me about moving back to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

That is not what I expected, and I didn’t want to go!

I didn’t want to leave the Northwest again for the flat, hot Midwest. I didn’t want to move away from my natural family and my wonderful church family...

I also didn’t want to go backward in my life. I’d been in full-time ministry for more than 15 years, and I just didn’t see how moving back to Oklahoma would be a promotion.

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Don't Panic!

Sometimes things happen to us that take us completely by surprise. We’re shocked, even.

That’s how I felt when my husband died – he hadn’t been sick, and he was only 37 years old!  He just went to bed one night and woke up in heaven.

Maybe you’ve been shocked by something in your life. It’s not a feeling we humans like.  It makes us feel like life is out of control, and we don’t know what might happen next. It can make us feel like panicking.

But even though you may feel like panicking, God does not. He isn’t shocked, or surprised, or afraid. He isn’t sitting on the throne making the Home Alone face, and He never will be.

Your heavenly Father never says, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming!” The events of your life don’t freak out God or catch Him by surprise. No matter what has (or has not) happened to you, I want you to know that God still has a good plan for you. Don’t panic.

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Will God Take Care of Me?

I think maybe some of us are not very sure of God. When we sit in church, or when everything is going OK in our lives, it’s easy to say, “God will take care of everything.”

But when someone close to us dies, or the doctor gives us a bad report, or we face financial problems, or someone betrays us, or we lose our job, then fear and doubt creep in.

We begin to wonder, “Will God really take care of me?”

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Have You Given Up On God?

Sometimes when things happen in our lives and we don’t know why, we get mad about it.  Sometimes we even get mad at God.

Let’s just be real. We have questions!  We want answers! And if we don’t get them, we might think, “Fine God, I’ll just do things my way from now on.”

Our heartache and disappointment can lead us away from God.  But amazingly, even if we turn away from Him, He never turns away from us. Ever!  He’ll never give up on us, but is always relentlessly pursuing us with His grace and mercy.

I heard a story about one woman who turned away like that…

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God Is On Your Side

Remember when you were a kid, and when it was time to play a game (either on the playground or in PE or in your neighborhood), two team captains would choose up sides?  If you’re like me, you wanted to be on the winning side, didn’t you!

Well, I have good news for you today – if you’re a Christian, you’re on the winning side!  You’re on God’s side!  And best of all, He’s on your side.

Psalm 118:6 says, “The Lord is on my side, I will not fear.” Despite any bad thing that may have happened in your life, God hasn’t loosened His hold on you, and He’s on your side! That means His power is with you.

There’s a story in the Bible that illustrates this perfectly….

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No Worries, God's Got This

Do you know the future?  Of course not – I don’t either.  You and I can’t see past today!

But we know Someone who does know the future.  Our Heavenly Father knows – and thank goodness, He knows your future. He’s got this -- He has a plan for your life.

And best of all, when God has a plan, He’s never worried about the outcome. He sees ahead and provides, which simply means that He has prepared every detail in advance.

There is a story in Genesis 22 that clearly illustrates how He see ahead and provides.

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God Will Never Let You Go

No matter what troubles may come your way, one thing you can count on is that God will never leave you or forsake you.

Not ever! This is something you can know, because He’s promised it in His Word.

Hebrews 13:5 in the Amplified Bible puts it this way: “He [God] Himself has said, I won’t in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!].”

Don’t you love that? Read it again—it’s God talking to you.

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Choose Positive Thoughts

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always choose how we react to it, and what we think about.

There is a story I like about a ninety-two-year-old gentleman whose wife had just passed away. They had been married for seventy years. He was legally blind, and no longer had her around to watch after him, so he had to move to a nursing home.

On the morning of his move, he was up by 8 a.m. and dressed in his best outfit. His hair was fashionably combed and his face was perfectly shaved.

In the car on the way to nursing home, he hummed a happy tune. After he arrived, he patiently wanted in the lobby as it took hours for the check-in process to be completed. Finally, his room was ready. When told he could now go to his new quarters, he smiled sweetly.

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Get Encouraged and Stay Encouraged

Have you ever been discouraged?  I think we all have been at one time or another.  You might even be discouraged right now.

Well, I want to help you.  I’ve been discouraged and I’ve been encouraged, and I’ve found out that being encouraged is better!  God doesn’t want you to be discouraged.   

Let’s face it, when you’re discouraged you’re not going to rise up in faith and conquer the enemy. You’re not going to help anyone.  No, you probably feel like going back to bed and pulling the covers over your head!

I don’t think we’ve properly understood the importance of being encouraged.  When you’re encouraged, you feel strong.  You make things happen.  You believe God.  And you reach out to help and bless others.  Being encouraged is more vital than we’ve thought!

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