The end of the year is always an appropriate time to reflect upon the most recent trip around the sun. This time, I decided to do it by looking back at the words God spoke to me.
When I revisited the last 365 days in posts, I remembered all the struggles with insecurity, disappointment, discontentment, worry and times where something seemed too difficult or even insignificant. (Yes, I have these moments too!) But most importantly, I rediscovered some of the profound whispers God used to get me through it all.
In my time in ministry, I've found that my battles are rarely unique to me, but are the battles of many others as well. And so, I wanted to share this collection of God's words to me this year with the prayer that they'll also provide you with hope, encouragement and comfort today.
When I Was Insecure
1. When God's about to bring an awakening, He separates people for peculiar callings. These Jeremiah-, John-the-Baptist- or Paul-like qualities will confound the wise and even those in the church. People might not understand you; they might be confused about you. But God has branded you "different" for such a time as this.
2. It's a certainty: people will misunderstand you; they will misinterpret you. The only way not to be angry, offended or bothered by their judgments or misconceptions is to focus on the truth of what God says about you."
3. Let them think you're too radical or too different. There's a reason God has chosen you for such a time as this. And it's definitely not because you're like everyone else.
4. Has the Lord shown you something that nobody understands? Or called you to a task that people can't believe? Welcome to the life of those who hear from God! Rather than work tirelessly to get people to get you, trust God for your vindication. He'll do the convincing in just the right timing!"
When I Was Disappointed
5. Make the devil mad by changing your perspective on closed doors. See the no's in your life not as rejections or disappointments, but as an ordering of your steps. Celebrate the letdowns as evidence that God is in control, protecting you from danger and steering you toward something better."
6. Disappointing moments aren't times to look elsewhere or away from the Lord but to stare more deeply into who He is. Press in all the more to the truths of God's Word that He is good, His ways are higher and He is in control.
7. There will always be people who fail you—whose words hurt you. That's life. Don't take offense. But let it lead you to find your fulfillment in the One who's faithful—whose Word always encourages you. That's Jesus.
When Things Seemed Too Small, Too Difficult or Took Too Long
8. Don't let the devil make you feel small, insignificant or inadequate. Hear the voice of truth: "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin" (Zech. 4:10, NLT). Whether you're just starting or starting over, join God in celebration of where you are in the process.
9. Don't let difficulties or scrutiny change your course. This isn't just about you. You're pioneering the way for a future generation. People might not appreciate your hard work now, but many will benefit from it in the future. God chose you for such a work as this, at such a time as this. It's gonna be worth it.
10. God takes 100 years to build a mighty oak tree, but only six months to make a squash. So when you feel like He's taking too long on something, consider that perhaps you're in a root-developing season. Though the progress may be underground, it's vital to what you will become. Trust that even when it can't be seen, God is at work finishing what He started in you (Phil. 1:6).
When I Was Worried
11. Recently, I caught myself worried about something and God said, "It's not your problem; it's mine." What a stress relief! Too often we carry burdens that were never ours to carry. God says, "Cast your care upon Him, because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7).
12. Studies reveal that at least 85 percent of what you fear never actually happens. Don't base your decisions on an imagination that probably won't come to pass. But live by the truth that God is guiding your steps and He'll help you through challenges as they come.
13. It's great when you can "feel" God, but a feeling can't be the test of His presence or represent the status of your position with Him. We all go through dry seasons, and it's not because God has left or is mad. No, His Word assures He will never leave you nor forsake you. He's "God with you" whether you feel Him or you don't.
When I Wasn't Content
14. When you stop chasing an ever-changing feeling and set your eyes on your never-changing God, you'll experience a peace and satisfaction that endures the tests of time.
15. Don't waste this moment by wishing for another. The notion that you aren't whole or happy until you arrive at a certain situation only robs you of appreciating what God has given you today.
16. Here's a secret to end a lot of frustration: stop depending on people to give you what you think you need. Your friends, spouse or co-workers aren't employed to be the babysitters of your happiness. So let them off the hook. The day you decide your needs are met in the Lord—that His joy is your strength—is the day you'll experience lasting peace and satisfaction.
17. The enemy preys on people when their defenses are down. That's why you'll often experience the worst attacks when you're physically or mentally exhausted. It's no coincidence then that two-thirds of the word "resist" is "rest." Yes, resisting the devil is sometimes as simple as rest and a good night's sleep.
When I Didn't Know the Way
18. Decisions? Pray. Wait for God to direct. Then take a step of faith. But don't hold yourself back in fear of a wrong decision. If you remain close to God, know that He'll get you back on course if you make a wrong turn.
19. If God encourages you to stay ... if He tells you to go... whether He wants you to stand strong ... or if He nudges you to back down. Wherever He's leading. Whatever He's asking. When it's of God, it's not always easy, but it's always worth it.
20. When you need to make a change, the past begins to beckon you back. It'll whisper reminders of the good times and incite fear of the unknown. Pay no attention; keep moving forward. What God has ahead for you is far better than what He wants you to leave behind.
Kyle Winkler equips people to live in victory. His mobile app, Shut Up, Devil!, is the No. 1 spiritual warfare app; and his recent book, Silence Satan, has helped thousands shut down the enemy's attacks, threats, lies and accusations. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity in biblical studies from Regent University. Get daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.
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