Sustainment :: By John Lysaught

We all get down at times. It can be from a trial or tribulation of any sort. We feel abandoned by God. We feel left behind by Him. We feel ignored. These feelings we have can make us feel desperate for recognition from God but we don’t feel it. We feel like we are sinking in our dismal situations and we are drowning in our misery. Yet, God is there. He is always there; and whether we realize it or not, He is sustaining us.

Psalm 34:17-18, says, “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

God does not neglect us. He is there for us even when we don’t feel like He is. We cry out to Him but we only hear silence. We want Him to deliver us, but we are still in pain from troubles. Psalm 34:17-18 tells us that He hears our cries. He is close to us in our pain, and He will deliver us from all our troubles. It doesn’t say He is far or that He ignores us in our situations. He sustains us. He holds us close to Himself, even when we can’t sense or believe this.

Believing the Lord is close to us when we face hardships is important to remember. We all face troubles, sometimes for a long time. When this happens, we are tempted to lose our faith in God’s power to heal and to give us strength. He tells us to trust Him and His ways, as Psalm 91:1-3 states, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”

We can trust that the Lord is on our side. He is our refuge in times of dismay. We can trust that He will deliver us, even when it is not on our timeline or in an outcome that we desire. He is our cover in the storm, even if we can’t see it. He is trustworthy, even when we doubt His ways.

Facing a hardship? We all do. Sometimes every day and sometimes not, but we will face them. When we face our hardships, this is when He tests our resolve to trust Him and His ways. Not our ways or the ways of the world, but His way. We need to remember that we live in the shadow of the Great I AM. He will not forsake us, even when we feel He does.

You ever have relationship problems? Even have financial burdens? I think we all do at regular intervals in life. Maybe it is a lost job, a death in the family, or maybe a wayward child or spouse. Regardless of when we face these troubles, we cry out for help; and when we don’t get an immediate response, we turn to others (the world) to fix our problems.

What it takes is patience in the Lord. Be patient with His resolve to help solve our issues or faced hardships. I find that when I face some trial or tribulations, this is when I discover where my true faith is – in God or the world. Who do I turn to first? Prayer? A self-help book? Secular advice? I’ve done them all depending on the situation.

Yes, it is easy to turn to God for the little problems we face because the outcome really has no substantial consequence. Yet, when we face a mountain in our lives, this is when we hesitate to rely on God for deliverance. We try and try any other means of resolution and only turn to God as the last resort when, in fact, we should have run to Him first.

It takes discipline to do this. Discipline to trust in the Lord and His ways, not ours or the world’s. It takes discipline to hold fast to God and to know He always has our best interests in mind, even when we think we know our own self-interests.

God is all-knowing. He knows the beginning to the end and shapes us in both the good and bad times to His will, not our will. We fight this, though. We fight God’s ability to sustain us because we believe we can sustain ourselves. This happens until we hit the perpetual wall of trials; and then, and only then do we turn to God.

It comes down to control. We have a hard time letting ourselves go to let God guide and direct us. Sure, we may say we trust Him, but do we? Do we trust Him when we lose a job or have no food on the table?  Probably not. We try to resolve the situations ourselves. We fight Him to try to do it our way instead of trusting Him to sustain us and provide for us.

Philippians 4:19 says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” God will provide all our needs. Not some of them, not here or there, but will provide all of them.  He does not neglect. God does not leave His children unprotected, even when we believe that is exactly what He is doing.

You see, God is the Almighty, not the sometimes God. He is sure and true to His word; and if the Word says He will provide, then we can trust that He will. In trials and tribulations, we can rest well knowing that He is with us and His promises are true. We don’t need to stress or have anxiety about life’s problems, nor do we need to stay up all night in worry. He sustains us.

When we find ourselves restless at night, and sleep evades us because we are stressing out about something, we would do well to remember Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Things work out for His purpose, not ours. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe He has something better for you. We may not understand God’s purpose for us, but we can trust that God will work it out to the betterment of His glory, not ours.

Now, this is for those that love God. Unbelievers don’t get it. Sure, the world may help them out, but it is worldly resolutions, not godly solutions. Their relief is temporary while God’s is permanent. We all have a choice in this; and for those who choose the Lord Almighty, well, His guarantee is to sustain us, regardless of the situation.

Whatever the situation is, we need to trust. I said it above, but I’ll say it again: people find this hard to do when the trial seems too big or its duration seems so long. When I find myself thinking of this, I think of Joseph and what life He lived until God’s purpose for Him was fulfilled.

God was with Joseph the entire time. He did not abandon him but used the situation Joseph was in, as bad as it was being a slave and falsely imprisoned, for His purpose. Joseph had to endure for a long time before he was delivered. We too may have to wait quite some time before God delivers us. We may not understand why our suffering may be prolonged or why things happened to us; but God has a purpose for those events, and we just need to trust Him and be patient with Him.

Notice that when we face a problem – especially the long and drawn out ones – after it is over, we can look back and see God’s hand in every moment? I do, and I’m sure you do too. We can see how God sustained us through it all and how He helped us to the other side. This happens only when we trust God and hold tight to His promise that He won’t leave us to dangle out there.

When we allow God to sustain us, we can let go of our troubles. If we trust in Him, fully, not partially, then we will come out stronger in our relationship with Him, and our trust in Him will only grow stronger. God sustains those whom He calls His children, and we as believers are His children and must know and remember that.

Outside the Norm :: By John Lysaught

Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

When we think of normal, a lot of things come to mind; but what really stands out is, to me at least, that being normal dictates conforming to what the world says is normal. This is especially true of our faith versus the world. We in our faith to Christendom are seen as abnormal by sects and populations in the world. They want us to conform to their standards and not the Bible’s. They want us to bend and twist our faith to the world’s beliefs or break us completely.

Being conformed to the world is wrong. The world doesn’t offer what faith in God does. What the world offers is simple pleasures and selfishness. False idols abound, our children are being brainwashed in public schools to conform to the world, and anything closely related to Christian thought is being erased bit by bit.

God doesn’t want us to be conformed to this world. He wants us to be an uncommon people, conformed to His ways, the right ways. If this makes us abnormal, then I welcome this. I want what God has to offer and not man because the world says that freedom comes from humanistic beliefs, the common thought and norm of the world, while God offers true freedom in and through Him.

Satan is the orchestrator of this false doctrine, of course. Man is not smart enough to do this on their own but need a leader to follow down this destructive path of unrighteousness and hate of real Christians; and they found this in Satan, the father of lies. He is using weak vessels who profess his false doctrine we see today in pulpits around the country to do his bidding to destroy the Church from the inside out.

These false teachers and professors of faith will twist doctrine and teachings to conform to the humanistic beliefs of the world. They teach and preach without the backbone of biblical teachings as their foundation. The teachers of this false faith are employees of the Devil and are dedicated workers for him to bring havoc, so sinful living and actions are viewed as valid and normal practices.

Believers of the true truth need not conform to the attempts of Satan and his followers. It takes strength to hold fast to the truth of God. It takes strength to not waiver in our faith. It takes internal fortitude to stand up to those that want to destroy our faith, and, in the end, will make us more empowered in our faith and relationship with God.

While living in this world, we need to be strong. Our godly strength comes only from God Himself. Yes, we can garner support from others, but true strength comes from the Lord. He is our strength and shield against the world; and when we face adversity, it is God who protects and strengthens us to endure and overcome.

The world does not buy into this. They have other gods, such as left-leaning personalities and politicians, godless entertainers, and material goods. To submit to God is unfathomable to them because their gods have such a grip on them and offer them the worldly pleasures that they believe give them happiness. Satan, of course, is the perpetrator and is the god of their gods, but to follow the true God? Unthinkable.  Those of the world are so entwined in their worldly lives that they believe they have no need for the true and living God.

True happiness comes from God, not the world. The world will try to persuade otherwise by offering worldly pleasures and treasures, but our true treasure is in God and His ways, not the world’s. The world wants us to abandon our faith to conform to what they think is normal – things like abortion, gender confusion, unholy unions, etc., to lead us away from God and into their grips of disillusioned beliefs and values.

Because of this, we are hostile to them and their false foundational beliefs. We, as believers, stand for ideals that they cannot conceive as the right way to live. They frown upon us and mock us to try to silence us from speaking and living our lives in and for God. It’s as though we are being forced to hide our faith; but with God upholding us and giving us strength, we have nothing to fear from man because they don’t provide us with a way to heaven and have no power over our salvation.

Part of being outside the norm is the lack of acceptance of us outside the walls of our churches and homes. Because of our faith, we are uncommon to the world; and because of such, we are subjected to diverse trials and tribulations brought upon us from Satan and unsaved men and women. They want us to fall and fail so they can point out and mock us of our shortcomings to keep us at bay.

What we have and they don’t is hope in the true and only God. We cling tightly to the hope in God and the future we have with Him while the world’s hope is in worldly ideals. The world does not recognize the hope we have. They deny God and, therefore, are doomed to hell while we are heaven-bound to eternity with God.

Being outside of the norm gives us an unspeakable joy and peace through the Holy Spirit that the world just doesn’t understand, as stated in Romans 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” So, what about the Holy Spirit?  He separates us from those who do not believe.

The Holy Spirit does not lead us down the path of destruction, but points us up towards heaven. In the middle of this world, trusting in the Holy Spirit’s ability will bring us a peace and a joy so that, even in the midst of a storm, the assurance of God’s love surrounds us like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day.

The world just can’t understand the peace and joy we hold. With the Holy Spirit being with us, we don’t have to stress out like the world does. We don’t have to worry about the unknown that the world does, and the Holy Spirit will uphold us in adversity so we can have an attitude of love that Jesus had towards those that came against Him.

Our faith takes us out of the norm of the world. We are abnormal to the world. We are marginalized by the world. This is awesome! Who, in their right mind as a Christian, would want to be considered normal to the world? I don’t, and you shouldn’t either. We are set apart from the world, and it’s okay to not be accepted by them. We shouldn’t desire or seek the approval of the world but should only seek and hold dear the approval of God Himself.