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Conquering Your Dungeon

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Day 5: Conquering Your Dungeon

The first days are so painful sometimes but I know days five and six are coming. God does not leave us alone to climb out of our dungeons. He helps us in conquering them. Today’s message not difficult to write because I am so familiar with it. For me, the encouragement and strength as essential–the very purposes we are gathered. I pray God’s Word does not return void, penetrating your own heart and mind.

Scripture

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:37

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

Devotional Material

Charles Spurgeon was a renowned pastor in London during the 1800s. He was not popular because he was soft on truth, nor did he pander to the critical base. It was his giftedness in preaching the Word. Spurgeon was able to present a truth, draw you in where you felt it is written for your particular need, and sense Divine inspiration.

This man, like our John the Baptist, was full of conviction, confident in his calling, with the ability to deliver faithfully. Spurgeon developed such powerful sermons that even translated in other languages across continents, just reading them could be used by God to bring people to salvation.

At age twenty-two, Spurgeon was newly married with two babies and already had what we would call a tremendous following. So much so that he and his congregation decided to rent the Surrey Garden Music Hall to accommodate the crowds they were anticipating. This music hall was built with a bottom floor and balconies where people sat facing the stage. Quarters would be close in order to hear the speaker without sound equipment. For an evening message, 12,000 people would attend. Another 10,000 would stand outside leaning in straining to hear something.

Such ministry success, however, brings out the worst in some people. A few minutes after six p.m. someone yelled “Fire! The balconies are giving way!” With that announcement came mass hysteria. People were still coming into the theater which blocked the exits. A balcony, indeed, gave way from the weight, but there was no fire. It had been a lie–intentionally told to create the hysteria and mass commotion. What resulted were seven deaths: people trampled by those trying to escape; and twenty-nine seriously injured. Spurgeon was helpless, and had to be carried out on the verge of consciousness. He didn’t believe he would ever recover from the event.

Yes. In this world, you and I will have trouble.

But we know this tragedy does not mark the end of an era for Spurgeon for the same reason your difficult situations, tragedies, or deep discouragements will not mark the end for you. His story is not over and neither is yours!

Even before we know how the story ends we can make progress in our own realities.

  • Refuse the defeating thoughts battling within your mind.
  • Instead, embrace the truth of God’s Word that He will help you through this difficulty.

With much affection,

 

 

Follow John’s Lead

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Welcome back. One thing about today’s devotional is that it stems from several places in Scripture. (There are several verses. I’m sorry!) I have provided them here for you so it shouldn’t be difficult. I certainly don’t want to leave them out. It is so important that we know where these verses live and today’s lesson is no different. 

I’m glad you are here. I pray you benefit from this plan as greatly as I have.

Day 2: Follow John’s Lead

Scripture

Luke 1:15

for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

Malachi 4:4-5

“Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. 5″Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6″He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”…

Isaiah 40:2-3

2″Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD’S hand Double for all her sins.”

3 A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 4″Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley;…  

Matthew 3:5-6

Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John 1:22-23

So they said to him (the Pharisees), “Who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet: “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ 

John 1:29

“Behold, The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” 

John 1:31

the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.”…

 

Devotional Material

We have time for one Biblical example in this plan on discouragement. Know there are others who needed God to restore their hope and their joy–their very life. God has been there time and time again to do the work and show Himself faithful.

In these moments we are going to take a look at John the Baptist, the cousin of the Son of God. Possessing the Holy Spirit from the womb, this guy was SOLID!

The Old Testament prophesied that before the Messiah came Elijah would return, and God would send someone to prepare the way. When John the Baptist arrives on the scene with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, he goes out into the wilderness looking very much like Elijah, sporting a leather belt and eating locusts as Scripture promised.

Fast forward through John’s ministry. John recognized Jesus as the Son of God and calls it out on the banks of the Jordan. Then before the crowds, John declared that the reason he came baptizing with water was to reveal this very man.

Once Jesus is out in public ministry, the crowds began to leave John and head over to the Jesus wagon. Naturally, John’s groupies are upset by this disruption, disturbing their awesome follower numbers. But John gets it! He understood His purpose. It wasn’t to have the most likes, high baptism numbers, or the greatest ministry success. Instead, it was to be overshadowed by this guy. Harold the new guy and get out of the way! That was his mission. But don’t stop ministering, John, in spite of the lessening crowds, the dropping numbers, and the discouragement it naturally arouses. Don’t stop speaking the truth regardless of the cost.

John lands in a dark, miserable prison for his faithfulness. Prison was not on the agenda. Preaching? Yes. Heralding the new guy? Absolutely. Preparing the Way was his calling, not wasting away in a dungeon.

Life wasn’t turning out as he planned. It begins to have an effect on him. Here he was doing everything God had asked of Him. He frankly couldn’t do anymore. For that, he’s in a dungeon. John begins to question very foundational premises that once rooted His life and mission.

What about you?

Have you ever found yourself in a different place in life than you planned? It’s not working out like you’d hoped or envisioned? Maybe you too, have experienced two handfuls of hardship for your faithfulness, and it’s causing you to question your own foundational premises.

Keep reading. Follow John’s lead. He takes his questions to Jesus. What you and I are going to see is that this makes all the difference.

Today, you and I can do the same.

Can’t wait to meet you tomorrow.

With much affection,

 

 

 

Where Can We Find Help

Hi. If you are new here, let me invite you in. I’m Cheri Strange and I am delighted you are here. This is one of my favorite reading plans. It speaks to me in my need. I pray it will meet you in yours.

Let me give you the rundown of how these plans work on the blog. Often I will make an introduction and then let you know I post the Scripture first and then begin the devotional material for the day. The only reason I would deviate is if I wanted to embed the passage into the material, but you will receive it either way.

Now let’s get to it. May God richly bless the study of His Word.

Day 1: Where Can We Find Help?

Scripture

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Palm 121:1-3

 

Devotional Material

There are seasons of real discouragement that firm, passionate Christians experience.

I know enough to recognize you and I are not that different. Oh, the circumstances will vary. The particular difficulties will fluctuate. But it’s the same internal sense. Sometimes we can be in a season of gloomy despondency. We can almost feel a heaviness like a smothering blanket settling across our hearts.

It could stem from relationships. The gravity of discord between those closest to us weighs on us, festering daily so that we cannot escape.

There may be a particular burden. A worry. That situation that just won’t work out or refuses to go away.

Your job or the lack of securing one could be the culprit. Or there might be tension within your family.

There’s also that sense, although you have been faithful to God’s call on your life, you remain here while life is happening around you. Maybe things have not turned out like you thought they should or believed they would.

It is possible, you’ve been diligently doing your thing morning after morning. Truth be told, you are weary, on the verge of giving up. Life wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Where can we go? What can we do when we find ourselves…here? Sometimes our lives filled with serving the Lord and loving Jesus–doing what we know to do– can involve such heaviness and dark places. It can cause a person to want to quit.

Hold on!

First of all, please know, you have permission to be in this uncomfortable emotional and mental spot. We don’t want to stay here, but there is nothing wrong with you in terms of being lesser in the Kingdom for finding yourself here. Scripture will make this crystal clear. So take heart. It’s okay, as long as we go to the right place for help when we find ourselves in a season of discouragement like this.

Where can you and I go for help? Psalm 121:2-3 tells us:

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Right now, would you invite the presence of the Lord into your quiet space?

He keeps you. He will meet you in the middle of your discouragement and not let your feet be moved.

With much affection,

 

 

 

The Dungeon Experience

Day 5: God Can Restore the One Having a Dungeon Experience

You have just about made it. It’s the final day. But it’s probably my favorite. I love it because it’s unexpected and yet so needed. I pray God speaks clearly to you today in whatever capacity you need to hear from Him. It has been a blessing to travel this path with you. God can, indeed restore what needs to be restored. He is your faithful God.

Many blessings as you read today about His restoration through our dungeon experiences.

Scripture

Matt 11:2–6; 7-15

Isaiah 35:3-6

Devotional: God Can Restore the One Having a Dungeon Experience

Have you ever trusted in a product or service later to find out you had been duped? You buy bottled water for its purity only to discover it’s from a tap in Milwaukee. Or you wear an armband promising better balance along with intellectual clarity, sounder sleep and agelessness. You want to believe it’s all true, but reality tells a different story.

That’s what happened in the case of the Piltman Man, the archeological finding that promised to provide the “the missing link” for evolution. In the middle of the twentieth century, this landmark discovery was found to be a complete hoax. The skull that was celebrated as a human mediary between ape and man actually originated from an orangutan. It had all been a farce to perpetuate the authenticity of a desired outcome.

John the Baptist finds himself in a dungeon, fearing just such a predicament. Everything that was once transparent and absolute becomes clouded. The herald of the Savior questions his own calling and judgment. Did he make a mistake? Because sitting in a dungeon is not how he calculated fulfilling his purpose.

To settle matters, John sent his disciples to Jesus. He wanted to know if he’d been duped by a con-artist or if Jesus was the Savior he announced.

John was locked up in a dark, flea-infested, stench-filled dungeon indefinitely. It’s the kind of place you and I have likely only read about. But we can sympathize with how he acquiesced into questioning everything he’d ever known and believed. What is important to note is the response from Jesus. In essence, he calls upon John to compare what the Scriptures declare the Messiah will do with reality. Yes! John got it right even though he couldn’t see through the darkness of his own experiences.

Sometimes life takes turns and swivels we never expected. We can have our own dismal dungeon experiences of life. I have a friend today whose life took an unexpected turn. She left town with the children, quit her job and returned few calls. I don’t know details, but that woman is having a dungeon experience of epic proportions.

Of this I am certain: if God can restore John the Baptist, shaken in the dungeon about the very identity of Jesus, He can restore my friend in her catastrophe.

Whenever you find yourself in a dungeon experience, your God will restore you.

 

Cheri

If you would like to go to the beginning of the plan, click here.  

Check this plan out on YouVersion (or Bible.com) here. 

 

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God Restores the Fearful

Day 4: God Restores the Fearful

So far, you and I have learned how tenderly God cares for His people. Maybe you are hurting due to your own missteps, or maybe it’s just the natural consquences of living in a fallen world. We can know, so far, He is faithful. And He is continuing to show us how far-reaching He goes to demonstrate his love and care. Today’s study is not different. It’s exactly what I need. God restores the fearful.

Let’s get on with the day.

Scripture

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:22-27

Devotional: God Restores the Fearful

Last year a man hid in our bushes awaiting someone unaware to abduct. Fortunately, we were aware. We learned he had been hiding in a nearby field for weeks. The perpetrator had made two unsuccessful attempts at snagging women the previous weeks, and had a previous criminal record, so a personal description was established. But our guard dog had died and my spouse moved to another city for the year. When a real Boogie Man is at the end of your driveway a different level of alarm presents itself than when it’s a hypothetical beckoning to lock your doors!

Scripture speaks to fear and calls us out of it. Simply stated, you and I are commanded not to fear. It’s not a suggestion and my situation is not an exception. Neither is yours. The Bible never tells us, however, that there is nothing legitimate of which to remain afraid.

Hands down, I could be the poster child for fear! My fears have spanned my years and could fill a closet for variety. They have invaded my sleep and left me breathless. Some of my fears are more irrational like avoiding the dentist for my routine teeth cleaning; but I also understand what it’s like to fear for your life and the lives of your children.

The disciples found themselves in a life and death situation, terrified and helpless. Doing exactly what Jesus had asked them to do, these experienced fishermen were losing the battle between man and the sea. It began to look like all hope for survival was gone.

That’s when they saw Him! Instead of providing hope and comfort, the sighting of Jesus walking across the waves escalated into paralyzing shrieks of fright! It had to be a ghost!

Instantly Jesus met them in their urgent need. Jesus saw them. He spoke to them, and literally went out to them. When cries were heard, Scripture tells us it was Jesus who immediately offered them His courage, assuring them of who He was, and that they need not be afraid.

It’s the same for you and me. Jesus sees you in your fear or in what is paralyzing you. In the middle of your hurricane-like situation, let His Word speak volumes over you. He knows it’s scary. But your Savior stands ready to give you His courage to restore you out of fear to trust Him through your storm.

Cheri

Click here to read Day Five.

If you would like to go to the beginning of the plan, click here.  

Check this plan out on YouVersion (or Bible.com) here. 

 

Other popular reading plans

 


after reading Increase your Bloom Ability read can God restore me
after reading the fight for radiance read can God restore meafter reading waiting well read can God restore me