Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

Step Out with God

My grandson is getting too heavy to carry. He recently turned two years old. Instead of carrying Him, I now let him walk beside me as he holds my hand. We walk together into new adventures all the time. He trusts me, so he willingly goes where I lead him. I like to think he knows how much I love him and realizes my only desire is to bless him. I have great joy doing anything with that little man, and I love it when he accepts my invitation and chooses to step out with me.

I think God must feel the same way about us. He loves us so deeply and delights over us so greatly that He cherishes those moments when we choose to walk with Him. He has great plans to bless us (Jeremiah 29:11), and it gives Him tremendous joy when we trust His heart and step out in faith (Joshua 1:5-6). Beyond that, He intentionally plans things for us to do—with Him and for Him.

In Joshua 1:9, the Lord says, “’Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go’” (NASB, italics mine). The last time I read that verse, it struck me: He has places for each of us to go, things He wants to do in us and with us. He calls us to step out with Him. Here’s why:

God is always doing something

Jesus says, “’My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working’” (John 5:17, NASB). The Lord actively fulfills His plans continuously, and “He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:35, NASB).

He says it another way in Isaiah 14:24: “’Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand’” (NASB). He is God, and as God, He is able to fulfill His plans. He has the power and the authority to do so. The amazing element in all of this is that–

God invites us to join Him in what He is doing

The Lord put a beautiful plan in action when Jesus came to die for our sins. Not only did He set us free from having to pay the penalty of our sins. Not only did He open a way to spend eternity with Him. Not only did He give us the supreme gift of having an abundant life now by truly knowing Him, but He also invited us to join Him in His work here on earth. The scriptures tell us He planned it all ahead of time, before we were even born: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB). In other words, He has stuff for us to do, and He wants us to walk with Him in doing it.

I remember many years ago, when a visitor walked up to me after our Sunday School class one day and told me, “You have the gift of teaching.” I was shocked. I had simply been joining the discussion as the regular teacher led it. I asked God if that comment was from Him, and He confirmed that it was. I told Him I was willing to do anything He wanted me to do (because I knew He would be the One doing it through me). Anyway, He orchestrated the circumstances around me so that I was asked to teach Sunday School. I have been doing that for almost 20 years now. My greatest joy in teaching is that I truly feel His presence with me as I prepare and teach. I get to do it with Him! I felt the same way when I wrote my book. I feel the same way when I write this blog, speak, or teach God’s Word at other places. Many times, He blesses me by revealing what He has done for others through my walking with Him in what He was doing. That thrills me too.

I heard once that there is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will. That’s true—because He’s there.

God shapes us and places us to fulfill our calling

In Ephesians 2:10, it says we are the Lord’s “workmanship” (NASB). One of our pastors says, “That means we’re His masterpiece.” YOU are a work of art, crafted and shaped by the God of the universe. Think about it. There is no one else on earth exactly like you. God wove unique traits, personality, and abilities into you. He authored your life with a special purpose in mind—a purpose only you can fulfill. He says you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14, NASB).

And more than that, He made you a new creation when you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB). You are new because you now have Jesus in you through the Holy Spirit, whom you received when you believed in Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps guide and empower you to fulfill your calling, to do those things God designed you to do. You just have to listen to Him and do what He says (Galatians 5:16, NASB). When you do, you bring glory to Jesus . . . and that word glory means to manifest or give an estimation of, and thus result in praise, honor, and glory. In other words, when you walk with Jesus and do what He uniquely designed you to do, then others get a glimpse of Him. Your life displays Who He is, and hopefully others will be drawn to Him too.

This is not about working or earning anything from God. This process is about the delight that comes from being in the center of God’s will for your life. Is it hard sometimes? Yes. Life pulls us in so many different directions. But we can be certain that if God calls us to walk with Him in something, He will supply all we need to make it happen. “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24, NIV).

Acts 13:36, NASB, says, David “served God’s purpose in his own generation”. May the same be said of us. Won’t you step out with God today?

Question: How and where is the Lord calling you to step out with Him? Will you? (Comment at the link below, and we will pray for you and your calling.)

Jeremiah 29:11; Joshua 1:5-6, 9; John 5:17; Daniel 4:35; Isaiah 14:24; Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 139:14; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Acts 13:36

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Just Say No!

I’m going to be honest. I don’t like to exercise. But even though I don’t enjoy doing it most of the time, I know it’s necessary and helpful to my physical health. The same holds true on a spiritual level. We are called to “exercise” for our spiritual well-being, and when we do, we are blessed.

In other words, sometimes we have to choose to put forth effort to fight the spiritual enemies that come against us. We have to direct our will to do the things God tells us to do, and to not do the things God tells us not to do. That’s spiritual exercise.

For example, in Joshua 1:9, the Lord commands us to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (NIV). Check out my last two blogs to see what it means to exercise your spiritual muscles in being strong and courageous. This week, I would like to share with you how to use our spiritual strength to not be afraid or discouraged.

Let God grow your spiritual muscles

Philippians 2:12 instructs us to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (NASB). The meaning of work out is to work fully, i.e. accomplish; by implication, to finish, fashion. In other words, the Lord saved us through His Son Jesus; now, God the Father wants to shape us, to finish and fashion us, to be more like His Son. We have to choose to cooperate with that process, and that decision involves flexing our spiritual muscles.

God allows trials and challenges to come into our lives so that we will have the opportunity to exercise our spiritual muscles, to become more like Jesus. We are told in the Bible that God actually allowed enemies to come against the nation of Israel so that they would learn how to fight (Judges 3:1-2, NASB). The same holds true for our spiritual battles.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:28-29, NASB). How might the Lord be shaping you in the midst of your trials to become more like His Son? According to the scriptures, a mature Christian knows the Son of God and becomes increasingly more like Him (Ephesians 4:13). How can we become more like Jesus? By saying No!

Say “No” to fear and “Yes” to faith

Fear serves as a signal that the enemy is near because we haven’t been given a spirit of fear;  God’s Spirit gives us power, love, and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7, NASB). That signal can be used to remind us to exercise our faith. We respond to and battle fear with faith. “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You” (Psalm 56:3, NASB). We exercise the muscles of faith, and they grow.

The Bible also says, “But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke,’ we also believe, therefore we also speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13, NASB). Our faith grows as we choose to believe God’s Word and speak it—to ourselves, our circumstances, and others. We see Jesus model this in Matthew 4:1-11, where He spoke what He believed, straight from God’s Word, and “then the devil left Him” (Matthew 4:11, NASB).

Even trial serves as an opportunity to learn more about God’s Word and the God of the Word, and then to apply those truths to our lives. That’s why the psalmist proclaims, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes,” adding that God’s Word “is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (Psalm 119:71-72, NASB). His Word is alive, and His Spirit moves through it to impact our lives (John 6:63, NASB).

We are transformed (to become more like Jesus) by renewing our minds to the truth (Romans 12:2, NASB). God’s Word is complete truth (Psalm 119:160, NASB). That word for renewing the mind means renovation–out with the old, stinking thinking, and in with God’s Word in our minds and hearts. Then, His Word starts transforming us from the inside out (Proverbs 23:7, NASB).

That takes work. It takes spiritual exercise.

Say “No” to discouragement and “Yes” to courage

Courage involves looking to God (see last week’s blog) and doing what He says because we place our trust in Him. That’s why Jesus could pray before His suffering and death on our behalf, “’Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done’” (Luke 22:42, NASB). The scriptures say, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8, NASB).

In other words, Jesus knew His Father and trusted Him in all things, and because He trusted His Father, He did whatever His Father told Him to do. Trust and obedience go together (Hebrews 3:18-19, NASB). Jesus put His hope, a biblical word that means a confident expectation, in God alone. We can choose to be courageous for the same reason.

Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NASB). We overwhelmingly conquer through Christ who loved us (Romans 8:37, NASB).

So when discouragement hits, we can see it as a signal as well, a reminder to exercise our spiritual muscles and to choose courage. As the psalmist said, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence” (Psalm 42:5, NASB).

Look at the picture at the top of this blog. Not only is the little girl saying, “No,” but she is also looking away from the thing that is harassing her and is looking toward something else. I like to think she is looking toward Jesus. He is the Source of our spiritual strength, and when we follow the leading of His Holy Spirit in flexing our spiritual muscles, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13, NASB).

We “just say no” to fear and discouragement and exercise our spiritual muscles because we know Jesus, and we know He loves us. He’s the best “workout” partner we will ever have!

Question: How are you being challenged to exercise your spiritual muscles? How can we pray for you?

Jos.1:9; Phil. 2:12; Jud. 3:1-2; Rom. 8:28-29; Eph. 4:13; 2 Tim. 1:7; Ps. 56:3; 2 Cor. 4:13; Matt. 4:1-11; Ps. 119:71-72; John 6:63; Rom. 12:2; Ps. 119:160; Prov. 23:7; Luke 22:42; Heb. 5:8; 3:18-19; John 16:33; Rom. 8:37; Ps. 42:5; Phil. 4:13



Look Up!

I watched the mother and father at the nearby restaurant table actively attending to their four young children. Nostalgia hit me as I remembered our family doing the same so many years ago. The 8-year-old was busily eating his hamburger. The two-year-old twins were snuggled on the lap of their mother, who was encouraging them to eat, and the four-year-old was screaming, while his daddy tried to comfort and engage with him.

Finally, the four-year-old fixed his gaze on his daddy, reached out his arms, and said, “Up!” The father scooped his little one into his strong arms, and the boy looked into his daddy’s face. I watched as the little one visibly released all the tension in his body and stopped crying. He had redirected his focus onto the one who loved him and would take care of him.

Colossians 3:1-2 says, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (NASB). It’s a picture of looking to Jesus, to who He is and where He is, and the fact that He has the authority to take care of everything that concerns us (Ephesians 1:19-22).

In Joshua 1:9, it says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (NIV). That word courageous means, to be alert, physically (on foot) or mentally (in courage). To be alert . . . to be watching, to be looking in the right direction, to be looking up to our Lord in whatever we are facing.

1 Peter 5:7 encourages us to cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us (NASB). That word anxiety actually means, through the idea of distraction, solicitude [a calling away]. Do you see it? The enemy of our souls wants to pull our attention away from the Lord and put it on the cares of the world instead—the things that will rob us of our peace and joy, the things that will take us away from intimate fellowship with Jesus—if we choose to focus on them instead of Him. When the unsettling times come, we have to choose to do as that little boy did—draw near to our Father and look at Him. We must look up, and here’s how:

Look at who God is

The scriptures are full of truths about our Lord, and we can go to them and speak them out over our circumstances. One of my favorites is Lamentations 3:21-26, NASB:

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I have hope in Him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.

Think about what you are facing and who you need the Lord to be in that situation. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your remembrance scriptures that speak to that attribute of God (John 14:26), or look up key words in a concordance. For example, if you need comforted, you can thank the Lord for being the God of all comfort, ask Him to comfort you, and then tell Him that once He comforts you, that you want to be used by Him to comfort others in similar situations (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NASB).

Look at what God says

The Lord makes more than 8,000 promises to us in the Bible. We need to look at them when we are hurting and unsettled. They are the greater reality. God backs up everything He tells us with everything He is (Psalm 138:2, NASB). For example, one such promise is, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, NASB).

No matter how we feel, it doesn’t change the fact of God’s Word. In Psalm 119:160, it says, “All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal” (NASB). We can count on what God says because He is God.

Look at what God does

Remember your history with God and His faithfulness in the past. He will continue to be the same God as you walk with Him now and in the future. When three different nations came to make war against him, King “Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:3, NASB). The king prayed a beautiful prayer, where he spoke about the Lord, who He was and His history of faithfulness toward the nation of Judah. Then, he spoke about his dilemma, and he ended his prayer with, “’O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You’” (2 Chronicles 20:12, NASB, italics mine). The Lord routed their enemies; they didn’t even have to fight! Then, they had even more history to remember about God’s faithfulness.

The scriptures tell us, He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NASB). We are told that for those who grieve, the Lord will “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:3, NIV). That’s what your God does!

So, the next time you find yourself unsettled dear one, look up! Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2, NASB). As the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace” (Lemmel, 1922).

Be like a little child. Crawl into your Father’s lap, and look up.

Col. 3:1-2; Eph. 1:19-22; Jos. 1:9; 1 Pe. 5:7; Lam. 3:21-26; John 14:26; 2 Cor. 1:3-4; Ps. 138:2; Phil. 4:19; Ps. 119:160; 2 Chron. 20:3, 12; Eph. 3:20; Isa. 61:3; Heb. 12:2

Question: How are you being challenged to look up? What do you need to know or remember about God? Comment below, and I will share some scriptures with you.


Hold On!

My dear friend and prayer partner Phyllis died suddenly and unexpectedly a few weeks ago. From her symptoms, it seems she might have had a brain aneurysm. From God’s perspective, it was time for her to come home and be with Him. I’m happy for my precious friend, but I am deeply sad at the same time . . . I miss her. Grief continues to hit me in waves in the wake of her passing. In the midst of it all, the Lord keeps telling me one thing: “Hold on.”

I recently taught at a women’s retreat entitled “Be Brave.” Joshua 1:9 was the main scripture for the weekend:  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV)  The phrase “be strong” actually means “to hold on”.

Hold onto the Lord

Every time we face something overwhelming in life, something we don’t understand, something expected, or something that hits us out of nowhere, we have a choice: whether we will hold onto the Lord or let go. We have to decide if we will trust the Lord or not. The Word for believe in the New Testament is pisteuo, and it means “to trust in, fully rely upon, and cling to” everything Jesus is and everything He says. These are the places where faith grows, where the connection with our Lord becomes stronger. As one pastor said at our church once, “faith is not faith until it is tested.”

In the days since my friend’s death, the Holy Spirit has reminded me over and over who the Lord is and what He says in His Word. I am holding onto those truths and onto the Lord for dear life. The truth is, the Lord is my strength. He says so in Judges 6:14, “Go in the strength you have,” and then He reminds us of our true source of strength: “Am I not sending you?” (NIV). He adds in verse 16, “I will be with you” (NIV). His faithfulness is great (Lam. 3:23), and His love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8).

The Lord is holding onto you

Whether we are holding onto the Lord or not, He promises that He has us in His loving and all-powerful grip, and He will never let go of us. In Joshua 1:5, He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (NIV). That promise is repeated in Hebrews 13:5 in the New Testament. The word leave means “to slacken one’s grip,” and the word forsake means “to let go” in Joshua 1:5. Essentially, the Lord is saying, “I’ve got you.”

He has us in every sense. We are told He cares for us (“protects and provides for us”) in 1 Peter 5:7. We are told His plans are meant to “prosper you and not to harm you . . . to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

Here’s the truth: A grip is much stronger, a connection is much greater, when both parties are holding onto one another. God always has a hold of us, but we have to decide to hold onto Him too. He never forces Himself on anyone. He wants us to choose Him. How do we do that? We just say, “I trust you, Lord.” We trust Him, hold onto Him, because He is holding onto us, and because we know who He is . . . the one who loves us so much. How did He prove His love for us?  He sent His only begotten Son Jesus to die and pay the penalty for our sins so those who believe in Jesus could experience abundant life here and now and be with Him and His Son forever.

The Lord will help you hold onto Him

Some days, my grip on the Lord isn’t as strong as I would like. Some days, the grief is just too heavy. The Lord becomes especially near on those days. He uses one of His faithful servants to send an encouraging text message, to call and speak words of hope into my soul, to smile at me, or to give a heartfelt hug. He lets me encounter life-giving words from the Bible that nourish and strengthen my soul. He gives me a special awareness of His presence. I don’t have to do my grieving alone. He is with me every step of the way. He and I can walk this path together, hand in hand.

I read this a few days ago in my Bible: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV, italics mine). He is going to help me hold onto Him as He holds onto me. I don’t have to figure out how I am going to get through this huge loss. He is going to enable me to do it. The right hand is the hand of power and authority in the scriptures. In other words, He has the power and ability to see me through this heartache, and more than that, He has the power and ability to enable me to “overwhelmingly conquer” anything and everything that life throws at me (Romans 8:37, NASB). I am going to count on Him to do that.

So, in my grief, I am going to keep holding onto the Lord. I pray, precious friend, that you will do the same. You are safe and secure in His grip, and He loves you forever.

Question:  How/where is the Lord calling you to hold onto Him? Comment at the link below, and I will be praying for you.