The Bag of Tricks

by Sharon Norris Elliott

My favorite cartoon was Felix the Cat. Felix started every episode just trying to live life without trouble. He’d whistle as he walked along or as he worked. But trouble always found him in the form of the evil Professor or Master Cylinder. Both of these adversaries wanted nothing more than to obtain Felix’s magic bag of tricks, which Felix was always able to use to escape from their sinister schemes.

Like Felix, most of us don’t go looking for trouble, but trouble often finds us. And trouble is real. Having faith doesn’t mean we ignore problems as if they didn’t exist and just skip on our merry way. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up because we feel hurt or frustrated or misused. Nothing is wrong with us if we experience a financial reversal, disappointment, disillusionment, or grief.

No, distress-producing tribulations that come our way are not indications of a weak faith. We are people of faith. Jesus said that faith as small as a mustard seed is enough. No matter what trouble rears its ugly head, we have rock-solid assurance that the trouble won’t consume us. We have in our possession the ultimate bag of tricks – the real and true and powerful God.

King Hezekiah turned to this very “bag of tricks” when his nation was threatened. The Assyrian king sent his bullying messenger, Rabshakeh, to intimidate King Hezekiah. In a letter he had queried, “Have the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers have destroyed?” Isaiah 37:12 (NKJ).

King Hezekiah took the letter, spread it before the Lord, and prayed, “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel… You are God, You alone… Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands– wood and stone. Therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone” (Isaiah 37:16-20 NKJ).

Felix the Cat realized the trouble that came his way was not ever really directed at him. The problems he faced were always ultimately focused on obtaining his bag of tricks. King Hezekiah saw the same ploy. If the Assyrians destroyed the children of Israel, they would essentially be destroying the assertion that Israel worshipped the true God.

It’s the same with us. Our evil adversary, the devil, couldn’t care less about us. He is trying to besmirch the glory of God. If he can get us to give up on our “bag of tricks” – our faith in God through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit – we’ll go down and God’s honor will be tarnished.

Hold on in faith. Let God show Himself mighty as He delivers you. There will be no other answer as to how you got out and got over except to give God the glory. Troubles are big, but our God is bigger. As Corrie ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep that our God is not deeper still.”

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’” Psalm 91:2 NKJ

About the author: “Live significantly!” That’s the inspiring message of Sharon Norris Elliott, award-winning author, editor, agent, engaging speaker, and licensed minister. Author of 12 books, and associated with several prestigious organizations such as AWSA, ACE, and HSBN.tv, Sharon is also co-director of the WCCW conference. She is founder/CEO of AuthorizeMe® Consulting, Coaching, & Editing Firm and Literary Agency. www.AuthorizeMe.net

Sharon’s latest release, A Woman God Can Bless, walks through the house of your life with you and Jesus. This book will help you ease open the doors of old patterns of behavior, ingrained habits, and accepted dispositions with which you’ve grown accustomed. Within these pages you will find gentle prompts that will help you let the Lord remodel those closed rooms by redesigning your thinking and behavior to line up with His will for how you should then live.

Join the conversation: What distress-producing troubles has God solved for you?

When Life is Tough

by Monica Schmelter @monicaschmelter

God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.                                                                                                                                             Psalm 46:1 CSB

When it comes to having tough times, it’s not a matter of if, but when. So it’s helpful to be prepared and pliable. As the proverb says, “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” Proverbs 22:3 NLT It’s a caution to keep an eye on our lives and what’s around us.

One way to prepare is to know the firm ground on which we stand. The following biblical truths are essential for a firm foundation.

God is good.

God is near.

God is working.  

God is Good.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT)

God’s heart toward us is always good. He loves us. His love does not prohibit tough seasons of life, but will see us through. His love provides a foundation for us to stand on during every season of our lives, in chaos and in peace. In your tough season, let the fact you are unconditionally loved strengthen and encourage you.

God is Near.

Even in the middle of our toughest seasons, God is near. He stands ready to help us when we need it the most. There is no place we can go that He has not gone before us. He understands completely.

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4: 14-16 NLT).

Allow this Scripture to speak directly to your heart. I am in a very tough season of life. When I read this Scripture, I ask God to help me in the way He sees to be best. Even when I feel alone or abandoned, I believe His Word is truth—He says He is near, full of grace, and willing to help. I believe His Word over what I see, think, and feel. As we dare to believe His Word over our circumstances we grow and mature in our faith.

God is Working.

He is working on our behalf whether we can see or understand it.

 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT).

If you’re in a tough season, dare to believe His Word. He promises that He is working on our behalf. He promises that He is bringing good. Dare to believe His promises.

God has a way of maturing our faith through hard times in our lives. Of course, we are responsible to do what we can during those seasons, but for all the things outside of our control, we trust in God’s goodness, in His nearness, and dare to believe He’s working all things for our good.

TWEETABLE
When Life is Tough – encouragement from @MonicaSchmelter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

monicaheadshot (1)About the Author: Monica Schmelter is the General Manager of WHTN (Christian Television Network) and host of the daily television program Bridges. You can learn more by visiting monicaschmelter.com.

Got a junk drawer? Ever find yourself stuffing stray items in there without thinking? Monica’s book, Messy to Meaningful, will help you sift through and sort out the unnecessary spiritual things weighing you down. Stop holding on to so much junk that you can’t fit in the good things the Lord is calling you to. Monica and co-authors Rhonda Rhea and Kaley Rhea will take you through your junk drawer and make you laugh along the way. Find yourself some beautiful…free.

Join the conversation: What foundational truths are helpful for you in times of trouble?