When You're Tempted to Quit

God has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word read in fact as well as faith.-2.png

There has been a common thread running through my quiet times with the Lord. From sermons, songs, devotions, Bible verses and more, God has been reminding me to keep on keeping on. Don’t quit when things don’t look the way I imagine they should. Don’t give up when I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. Don’t give in when the road is long and hard.

Just this morning, I was reminded of the children of Israel as they marched around the walls of Jericho. Day after day, they followed God’s command, yet to the eyes of Israel, nothing was happening, other than the fact that the inhabitants of Jericho were probably laughing their heads off at the ridiculous “antics” of God’s chosen people. What if the people had given up on the fifth day? What if Joshua—discouraged by a lack of progress and results—decided he had had enough and he would fight the battle his way? Would Jericho have been destroyed?  

I think, too, of Naaman, the leper who sought healing from God’s prophet, Elisha. Despite Naaman’s lousy attitude and resentment over Elisha’s prescribed remedy, the nobleman followed through and began dipping himself in the waters of the Jordan. What if he had stopped after the fourth dunk or even the sixth? What if he had examined his leprous skin each time after immersing himself in the water and determined the process didn't work? What if he stopped obeying because he didn’t see immediate results?

With these thoughts on my mind, I prayed about what the Lord would have me share with you today, and He directed me to this quote I scribbled in my journal several weeks ago. It went so beautifully with everything else God was speaking to my heart I knew I had my topic for today’s devotion.

God has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word real in fact as well as faith.
— A.B. Simpson

Wow! Think about it. Faith is the evidence of things unseen. If we see results, that’s not faith. It’s sight. But the Bible tells us the just shall live by faith. God is working in our lives to help us trust Him whether or not we see results. He encourages us to be faithful even when we don’t understand. It is His will that we keep going despite our progress or lack thereof.  

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve prayed, “God, I would do much better if I knew this was actually working. Let me see something. Shew me some results, some fruit from my labor. Help me to know I’m on the right track here.” Now, I realize how small-minded that prayer is. God sees the bigger picture and has a higher plan in place. Instead of fueling my obedience with visible results, He’s teaching me to trust Him without them. He is increasing my faith (which, ironically, has been near the top of my prayer list for quite some time).

I don’t know what you’re facing today or how weary you are with the journey, but I know this—God has a plan for you. Don’t give up. Keep marching around those walls. Keep dipping in those waters. Or as Dory says, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” Whatever God has called you to do, please don’t let the lack of progress or results keep you from continuing in obedience. God is working even when we can’t see. Trust in that and keep on keeping on!

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
— Galatians 6:9

The Demands of Discipline

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In my devotion time this morning, I came across an excellent definition of the word "discipline."  According to Charles Swindoll, discipline is "doing what we don't want to do so we can accomplish what we've always wanted."  Sounds about right to me.  After all, it seems that I've had to discipline myself in many areas lately.

One must have discipline to work from home.  Otherwise, nothing would get done.  There are always distractions and other obligations.  There are always excuses for not getting to a particular task.  And while I love to write, there are specific areas (like marketing, formatting, and editing) that are a necessary part of my ministry, yet ones I despise doing.  But if I want to accomplish what I've always wanted, I have to be willing to do some of the things I don't want to do.

I've also called upon discipline in my journey toward better health.  The road has been long and hard and involves many things that I would rather not do.  I don't like to exercise.  I don't enjoy making myself get out of bed at 6:00 in the morning so I can do my three-and-a-half-mile walk.  I don't want to eat a salad instead of a plate of fajita nachos from my favorite Mexican restaurant.  I don't want to drink water instead of soda.  I don't want to do stretches and Pilates and strength training.  But each of these things is necessary if I am ever to accomplish what I've always wanted--optimal health.

Then there's the housework.  Scrubbing bathrooms is no fun at all.  Having to give up some of my precious writing or reading time to do the dishes is misery.  Folding laundry.  Running errands.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  These tasks hold no joy for me at all, yet I know that if I don't discipline myself to do them (and do them regularly), I will never achieve a relaxing and peaceful abode.

Now, we've added into the mix the many tasks involved in getting ready for deputation.  I had no idea how much time and effort were involved before even booking our first meeting.  It's crazy!  The process has required discipline and time management, having to choose what needs to be done over what I want to do.

I guess, in the end, it all boils down to this question:  How badly do I want it?  How badly do you want it?  Whatever it is that you're trying to achieve, do you want it badly enough to implement discipline into your daily routine?  Is your goal desirable enough that you're willing to do the things you don't enjoy to obtain the thing you've always wanted?  It won't be easy, and you may find your discipline wavers from day to day.  But hang tough and be strong.  And imagine the joy that is awaiting you when you finally reach the thing for which you have strived.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
— Proverbs 25:28

Holding Nothing Back

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I’ve been told by the experts in the field that the only way to grow my outreach within the community is to tap into the power of funnel systems. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a funnel system is a method of giving away a small gift, which leads people to invest in a more significant product like a video series, which then pushes them to sign up (and pay for) the next step which is something like an in-depth course, which persuades customers to reach the final level—one-on-one coaching or consulting.

The system itself is fine, but the way it’s generally implemented makes me sick. It begins with a promise that the gift will answer all your questions and solve all your problems. What they don’t tell you is that will only happen if you follow all the way through the funnel. The idea is, within each step, they give people just enough information to whet their appetite and then promise they can find out more by signing up for the next level, which does the same thing. Only after spending hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of dollars and jumping through a million hoops do you achieve the results you were promised.  

It’s so underhanded, but it’s prevalent these days. Why? Because people are desperate for answers to life’s toughest problems, and many deceivers prey upon those who are hurting and know they can make easy money by promising solutions. Once people are hooked, they feel they’ve already invested too much time, effort, and money to not see it through to completion, so they continue to hand over their money in hopes they will finally find the peace for which they’ve been searching. And sometimes they do find that peace, but typically, they also discover they have a new stressor in their life—financial trouble. But they need not worry. There’s someone else out there who has a funnel system to help with that.

When I was approached about setting up a funnel system in connection with some of my books, I was told I would have to rewrite the books because they gave away too much information. I didn’t hold back the good stuff. I was too honest and forthcoming, so people wouldn’t see a need to go any further or purchase any additional products from me. The ironic thing about this conversation is that they intended the comments as a criticism, not praise. I was being criticized for being too honest and giving people the information I had promised them. Talk about a messed-up world!

I told the individual I would not be rewriting my books, and if I developed videos, a course, or coaching based off the books, it would be done to help people who desired further help and information. I would not willfully withhold the “good stuff” from them simply so I could have more money in my pocket or have a greater outreach across the web. That’s not the way I roll because it’s not the way Jesus rolled. He didn’t hold back the truth. He said what needed to be said, even when it wasn’t what the crowd wanted to hear. To do anything less would have been outside His Father’s will.

Suppose Jesus was content to speak with the people for five minutes but charged a fee for every moment after that. Oh, and if you wanted healing, that was an even bigger fee. Time alone with Jesus? Better hope you have your checkbook. No, Jesus didn’t act like that. He didn’t use people’s pain and trouble as a means to fatten His money purse or spread His fame. He met them where they were and did what He could to help them.

Before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear. I am not saying that a Christian worker or minister shouldn’t be paid for his or her services. God uses His people to further His work here on earth, and that includes in the financial area. It takes money to run a ministry, and that money has to come from somewhere, and I thank each of you who faithfully support this ministry each month. I couldn’t do what I do without you. The difference lies in giving money to help a cause or to purchase merchandise (like Christian books, wink, wink) and being taken advantage of by those who only offer empty promises and are continually trying to sell you the next, best thing because they know full well you’ll want it since they didn’t deliver on their promise, to begin with.

My challenge to you today is don’t hold back. Don't hold back from doing all you can do and being all you can be. Don’t hold back that smile from the coworker who is having a rough day. Don’t hold back from sending that card to the shut-in. Don’t hold back from taking time to call your parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. Don’t hold back from being a witness to anyone and everyone you see. Don’t hold back from giving God your all. Whatever you do, give it your best. Hold nothing back!

Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
— Proverbs 3:27