Jason Taylor begins new Philippians study on April 6

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forth coming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut was in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky! The worst had happened; everything was lost! He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could You do this to me?” he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.

Paul wrote, “… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12). He had confidence that good would come out of everything, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28), so he learned to be thankful, not bitter, even when he was suffering.

For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it:

You say, “It’s impossible.” God says: “All things are possible.” (Luke 18:27)
You say, “I’m too tired.” God says: “I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28-20)
You say, “Nobody really loves me.” God says: “I love you.” (John 3:16)
You say, “I can’t go on.” God says: “My grace is sufficient.” (II Cor. 12:9)
You say, “I can’t figure things out.” God says: “I will direct your steps.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
You say, “I can’t do it.” God says: “You can do all things.” (Phil. 4:13)
You say, “It’s not worth it.” God says: “It will be worth it.” (Romans 8:28)
You say, “I can’t forgive myself.” God says: “I forgive you.” (I John 1:9)
You say, “I can’t manage.” God says: “I will supply all your needs.” (Phil. 4:19)
You say, “I’m afraid.” God says: “I have not given you the spirit of fear.” (II Tim. 1:7)
You say, “I’m always worried and frustrated.” God says: “Cast all your cares on Me.” (I Peter 5:7)
You say, “I don’t have enough faith.” God says: “I’ve given everyone the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)
You say, “I’m not smart enough.” God says: “I give you wisdom.” (I Cor. 1:30)
You say, “I feel all alone.” God says: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)

Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground, it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

Let me personally invite you to our Wednesday Night Bible Study as we look at Paul’s letter to the Philippians. This book is known as the Book of Joy. Hopefully we can learn some lessons to help us when life throws us a curveball and gets hard–Jason

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