“Jesus Didn’t Let Discouragement Win!”

“Jesus never fails,” is something I have heard quoted many times over in church.  There is no greater truth for the Christian to hold on to for in it we find consolation for our souls.  Coming across this passage in my Bible, this particular verse wouldn’t let me go.  It held on and refused me the opportunity to pass it by, demanding that more attention be paid to it.  It says, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth,” (Isaiah 42:4).

Knowing the power of our Lord, of course I know He never fails.  As a matter of fact, it is something you and I count on daily.  The part that really jumped out at me was that He does not get “discouraged.”  That is something that this flesh of mine CANNOT boast about.

We are easily swayed this way and that with the moving of our circumstances and our emotions and just plain old life itself.  But, Jesus never let anything sway Him.  He never let anything drag Him off course from where God wanted Him to be.  As a matter of fact, He repeatedly let us know “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me,” (John 6:38).  Discouragement didn’t stand a chance against the will of God planted so deeply in Him.

Let’s really think about this because if anybody had a reason to be discouraged, Jesus did.  Think of His walking up and down the shores of Galilee, some followed Him just for miracles and some for ridicule, purposed to find fault in Him.  Think about the many times He performed a miracle for others and yet when it came the time that He would need people the most, “they all forsook him, and fled,” (Mt. 14:50).  If it were me I would have felt so used but Jesus’ response was “but the scriptures must be fulfilled,” (Matt. 14:49).  God’s will was still prominent over His emotions.  Yes, He got upset sometimes.  Remember when He overthrew the tables, (Mt. 21:12)?  But, He never let discouragement win!  He never let discouragement take Him off course!  He never let discouragement gain the upper hand.  Wow!

Jesus had every right to be discouraged with the way things were but He did not give it the opportunity. Discouragement is a pit.  The more you swim in it the deeper it takes you under.  The fact is we do what Jesus didn’t do, we give it the opportunity.  Jesus let nothing frustrate Him from doing what He had to do.  What about us?  How often have we or do we swim in that pit of discouragement only to wonder why we can’t get anything done around here?

There are going to be upsetting times in everyone’s life and I will never downplay those.  Even Ecclesiastes tells us, “To everything there is a season,” (Ecc. 3:1).  But, if we find ourselves dipping too often in the pool of despair then we have to wonder why do we keep giving it the opportunity to control our lives?  Why do we keep giving it a place of position instead of responding like Jesus did?

Sometimes it does get hard but I believe we have to make a conscious decision to respond the way Jesus did and to not let it frustrate us from everything that God has for us and wants us to do.

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“Rejoice Anyhow!”

 

Walking through life, sometimes it is hard to find joy in the midst of all we are going through.  When our eyes take in all that is around us, it is so easy for despair to take over and leave us with the feeling of dread for the days ahead.

But, as a child of God, we don’t have to dread what we see or what’s ahead.  Our Lord is always in charge even when our circumstances seem awry.  And, He is always our reason to rejoice when we see nothing better and when we can’t figure how all this will turn out.

The Bible is replete with the stories of real-life characters who faced challenging times and still had a praise on their lips and worship in their hearts.  People who found it in themselves to still rejoice in spite of.  Job, a man who’s suffering we are well acquainted with, after finding out he lost everything, still found it within him to bless the name of the Lord, saying, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord, ” (Job 1:21).  When David’s son died, he rose from that heart-wrenching circumstance, went into the house of the LORD, and worshipped (2 Samuel 12:20).   When Paul and Silas found themselves beaten and put into prison for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Rather than sulk about all they were going through, at midnight, the Bible tells us, they “prayed, and sang praises unto God,” (Acts 16:25).  

We may, at times, feel down, but our circumstances do not determine our praise.  We can still rejoice regardless of what we are experiencing and what we see before us.

Beginning in chapter 3 of Habakkuk, we find him praying, “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Hab. 3:2), regarding deserved judgment and yet, praying for mercy in the midst of it all.  As he continues to pray he also notes God’s greatness and His mighty deeds; stating everything from “His glory covered the heavens,” (Hab” 3:3) to “The mountains saw thee, and they trembled,” (Hab. 3:10).  He also prayed and noted, “Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger.  Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed…” (Hab. 3:12-13a).

As Habakkuk prayed, he noted all the greatness of God, not only in what He does in the earth but also in what He does for His people and their salvation and deliverance.

With that, he settled in his soul, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines: the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation,” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

In other words, “I may not see the fruit of it right now, but I will rejoice anyhow!” The situation may look like a failure according to human standards, “But, I still find a reason to praise!”  When there seems to be no profit coming from the work and the land seems barren before me, they are not my source.  God is my source and I say,  “Yet, I still glory in my God!”  When my house seems empty and without,  as long and I have Him, I have everything my soul and my life needs, therefore, “I will rejoice!”

I still have to lift His name on high!  I still stand in awe of who He is in my life.  I can still “joy in the God of my salvation!”  My situation may not look right, but my God does! He is the same today, yesterday and forevermore, (Heb. 13:8).  His Word declares, “They shall perish, but thou shalt endure… But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee,” (Psalm 102:26-28, emphasis mine).  Man may change.  Circumstances may change.  This world may change, but God never changes.  He is from everlasting to everlasting and He has His children in the palm of His hands!

So yes, we have a reason to rejoice.   Each of us has a reason to joy in the God of our salvation!  God is for His people! He establishes His people.  He is keeping His people.  Even if it doesn’t look like we think it should look, we know that He has us and we can rejoice!

Put a praise on it! Show your confidence in God through your praise!  Though it may look messed up, get with the psalmist and say, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth,” (Ps. 34:1).  Rejoice anyhow!

If they’re talking about you, scorning you, and treating you bad because you live the just lifestyle, because you are determined to go with God until the end, that’s okay!  Jesus said, “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven…” (Lk. 6:23).  Rejoice anyhow!

If it seems your world is spinning out of control, rejoice anyhow!

If things aren’t working the way you planned, rejoice anyhow!

If contentions seem to be too common in your day, rejoice anyhow!

God is not blind to what His people are going through.  He is faithful, and He is our confidence in the midst of it all.  As long as God is on the throne (and He always will be), His people will always have a reason to find joy regardless of everything they are going through.  Our circumstances are never the last word of authority when it comes to the child of God.  It’s His greatness and His glory that we praised earlier.  It’s because of Him that mountains tremble and enemies are subdued.  He is our trust, even in the hardest times.  He is our hope, even if all looks hopeless.  He is our source of all the joy we feel on the inside because, by Him, we are saved.  Through Him, we are held forevermore and our salvation is secured.  And He is ALWAYS for His people!

Therefore, Rejoice anyhow!

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines: the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

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Devotion – “Making it Home Safely”

When you’ve been traveling on the highway for hours the journey gets daunting.  You see people lose patience with one another and make reckless moves to avoid adding extra minutes in traffic.

Witnessing this over and over again, in my head I thought to myself, “I’m just trying to make it home safely.”  Yes, it’s hard and my body aches from the hours of sitting.  Yes, I want to get through the jumbled mess of cars just as bad as anybody else but if carelessness and not paying attention while driving distract me or anyone else from the task at hand, it may prevent me from getting to where I want to be.

Our daily lives and decisions mark the path for us more than we know.  If we are rushing about, handling life haphazardly, distractions and reckless behavior may cause major upsets in the flow of the ride, preventing us from our desired destination.

Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).  What amount of distractions and desires are worth missing out on heaven for?  What reckless lifestyle will cause you to trade off what awaits you up ahead in glory?

I don’t know about you, but I’m just trying to make it home safely.  There are many things that the enemy will use to take our affection and focus off of our heavenly home.  But, my friends, the promise that lies before us is too great to miss out on.  Imagine when that day comes to stand before God face to face.  Imagine if you will, there we will be sitting at the feast table and sharing in a heavenly celebration with noted characters from God’s Holy Word.  Can you imagine seeing Jesus for yourself?!

Oh, there is something so special about that holy destination that words from the human tongue fail to give it it’s proper due.  But, in my heart and in my mind I long for that place too much to let things down here stand in the way.

Do you have a yearning for heaven?  Do you desire to bask in the glory of God as His countenance shines down on you?   Do you long for peace and joy inexpressible which will fill your being at knowing you have made it over?  The Holy Scriptures encourages us of that eternal dwelling, stating, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

The journey may be rough at times, but the destination is sweet and, “I’m just trying to make it home safely.”

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“Spotlighting God!”

The construction of the temple had been completed. Years of preparation and work have finally seen the fruit of its success. The dedicated things were brought in. The ark of the covenant of the LORD is put in its proper place. And, the trumpets and singers are making one joyful sound of praise and thanksgiving.

King Solomon then turns to the people and says, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who hath with his hands fulfilled that which he spake with his mouth to my father David,” (2 Chronicles 6:4).

Friends, in all that we do from day to day. In our grand successes, or daily, mundane jobs, it is so important to recognize that it is God’s hands, it is His moving in our lives that allow us to do what we do.

The Bible tells us, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31). In everything He has privileged us to do and be, we are to be magnifiers of His glory. We are to make sure the spotlight is on our Heavenly Father. All the activities of our lives are to bring glory to God.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him,” (Colossians 3:17). Bless God. In all your works and deeds, say, “Lord, I thank You!” Recognize that He has honored us with the privilege, power, and strength to do what we do, taking no glory for our own.

King Solomon could have erroneously made the dreadful mistake of many in great authority, and he could have attributed the success of building the temple, and all that he performed and acquired to his own glory. He could have praised himself and pumped up his own name for a job well done.  But, he didn’t.

In all the trumpeting. In all the singing. In all the celebrating, he celebrated God. He knew that it was God’s hands on his life that allowed him to do what he did. He knew it was nothing he could have accomplished on his own.

In everything we do, the greatest thing we can do is bring the focus where it rightfully belongs: on God the Father. Make His praises known. Acknowledge His hand and work in what you do. Bless His name for He is the one who has allowed to us do what we do, whether it be of meager beginnings or great successes.

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One day, this will all be over!

Your tears matter to God and we have a promise that they’ll all be gone! In this day of ours, tears may be your meat day and night (see Psalm 42:3) and they may be remembered and recorded as precious cries in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), but in that day, all vestiges of sorrow will be humbled before the Divine. No evidence left; no, not a trace, of what once afflicted your soul when He comes with His loving touch and brushes them all away. It won’t be in our new heavenly destination!  One day, this will all be over!

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4

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“Wash Me Jesus!”

“If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” John 13:8

 As humbling as it was, He was doing it anyway, washing the feet of all the disciples in the room.  In case you didn’t know, this was a very gross job reserved for the lowest of servants in the house.  The roads were not paved but rather dusty and muddy and littered with all types of animal material left behind (if you catch my meaning).  Open sandals were the norm of fashion which really didn’t do anything to keep the elements of all that had been stepped on out.  Feet stank and were blistered, sore, and probably repulsive to us today.  No such thing as a pedicure back then.

Yet, here is the Savior, bending below the lowest servant washing the filth away.  Is this not a precursor to what He would shortly do on the cross, stooping below the lowliest to wash all the filth and stink of sin away forevermore?  The things that are repulsive, gross, and out of order with the beauty of the life God designed, Jesus bows to wash it all away.  No wonder His rebuke to Peter sounded harsh, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”  Jesus knew better than anyone that anything man could do to try to remove the filth of sin away was inadequate.  One needed to be washed by Jesus.

Despite popular belief, there are not many roads to heaven.  Jesus very clearly stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” John 14:6.  I cannot overemphasize those two words NO ONE.  That means no exceptions.  That means no matter how good one thinks they are if they have not gone through Jesus, if He has not cleansed them from their sins, they will not walk those dirty feet on His heavenly streets.

Wash me, Jesus!  If there are any impurities, any sin, anything that keeps me from You, cleanse me and make me whole.  “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” John 13:9.  From the top of me to the bottom, from the inside out, wash me and suit me to live forever in heaven with Thee!

Today, turn to Jesus and seek His cleansing salvation!  Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5).  Each person has the responsibility to turn to Jesus with a heart faith and in true repentance.  “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

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“Have A Warmer Heart Than Usual!”

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,” Luke 10:33

I live a good distance from the church I attend which means lots of driving and observing time.  Often times, on my way to church I look out my window and I stare.  Some may think I’m being rude, but it’s the exact opposite.  I look at that person sitting on the stoop or the one standing on the corner, and I wonder.  I wonder about what they may have gone through that day.  I wonder what it is that made that person look so sad.  I wonder about the mom on the bus stop struggling to get the stroller, baby, and bags onto the bus.  I wonder.

How often have we really taken the time to see beyond the people to see the person, to really try to imagine you walking in the shoes of another?  To see what’s going on inside the person without judging the outside?  To show a tender heart instead of a wagging head, disapproving eyes, and a simple tsk-tsk-tsk?

When it’s all said and done, it is the “royal law” of love that wins out every single time (James 2:8).  Thinking beyond oneself will go farther and make more of a difference in the world we live in.  Why?  Because that’s what Christ did for us!  He looked beyond Himself, beyond His own needs and hurts, and saw what the world needed.  The world needed a Savior.

Even during His earthly ministry, it has been noted in the Bible, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion…” (Matthew 9:36).  To the leper: “And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him…” (Mark 1:41).  To the mom who just lost her son: “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her…” (Luke 7:13).  To the world: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42).  To His enemies: “Father, forgive them;  for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34).

That’s how warm Jesus’ heart was toward people.  He had a genuine concern to look at people from the inside out instead of the outside in.  He saw the person beyond the people.  So did the Good Samaritan.  Despite the rejection and animosity he had faced down through the years at the hand of the Jews, the wounded man lying before him needed his help.  He was not going to let those years of bitterness or even indifference change his resolve to help the one that needed him now.

Paul taught the church in Ephesus to “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us…” (Eph. 4:32-5:2).

Followers of God are concerned with the person on the inside.  A child of God is warmed to the plight of the human in humanity and sees them for who they are.  They are someone that God is concerned enough about to allow His Son to die.  Shouldn’t we then have that same compassion for one another?

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Living This Life for the Life to Come

Uncertainty. If it is not a word on many lips, it’s a word that many are feeling in their hearts. A bothersome restlessness that leaves one’s thoughts in an upheaval of mess because they just don’t know what’s around the corner next. Will this happen or that is a question many are asking.

Worrying about our times and futures seem to be among many normal conversations of the day. Not that any can blame one for expressing their concerns regarding the menagerie of mess that seems to be swirling around us. With so much hanging in the balance, making many feel like their load is going to capsize at any minute, what can we, as individuals do?

In the natural, I think the most any of us can do is prepare as best as we can with the means we have available to us. This will not look the same for each of us. For many, these times bring greater stress than for others and it really stretches one beyond their comfort zone.

There are just things that we as individuals cannot control. We just can’t. And the constant worry and stress over it gets us nowhere.

Then, there are things we can control, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to others.

Physically, everything is dependent on what a person is able to do or not to do. But the preparation for a better spiritual future is the same for everybody and is not dependent on any earthly resources, means, or ingenuity. The greater spiritual outcome we hope to obtain, and the heavenly reward up ahead is only dependent on what Christ already did on the cross for us, and us choosing to believe and accept Him and follow Him with our whole heart and our whole life, for He is the only way to experience that greater future. Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven (John 14:6).

As we watch the news and look out into this world, we may scratch our heads wondering what this world has come to. It’s hard for us to digest some of the despicable acts of human nature. It’s hard to see evil running rampant. It’s hard to see innocent people being hurt. People making wrong choices. Disfunction knocking on so many doors. It’s hard to witness what this world has come to.

It’s also hard dealing with some of our own personal issues and struggles. And the word “uncertainty” seems to just get bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, taking on a life of its own.

While uncertainty in the here and now seems to keep growing for myriad of reasons, in Christ, we really do have a future that is certain, secure, and real. It’s better than anything we can prepare for or lay up in our present-day. For everything here will pass away one day and all that will matter is the future we have prepared for in the time to come.

John, in the book of Revelation, wrote, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sin,” (Revelation 21:1).

One thing is certain, all that we see with our natural eyes will one day be gone for good. Our hope is to be in what we have laid up for spiritually. Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” (Matthew 6:19-21; see also Luke 12:34; read Luke 12:33-44).

While many are so focused on the here and now, how many are living this life for that life to come?

I’m in no way bashing being prepared and taking steps to secure things needed for family and friends. Rather, I want us to examine the focus of our hearts and where our treasure truly lies. Putting more stock in the here and now will not ultimately profit us (read Luke 12:16-21). We must ask ourselves, are we worried about being more “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21) or toward the things of this world?

Live this life for the life to come and no matter what takes place down here, you will have a greater reward, a greater treasure up ahead that will never fail you or be taken away from you. The word “uncertainty” doesn’t exist there.

There, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” (Revelation 21:4).

There, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son,” (Revelation 21:7).

There, “The nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it…” (Revelation 21:24).

There, in that heavenly place, “There shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads,” (Revelation 22:3-4).

While uncertainty may remain here, there in heaven, will be nothing but blessed assurance, peace, beauty – everything good, right, and holy.

Live this life for the life to come and your preparedness will not be for naught, and your treasure will never be misplaced or lost.

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“Thou art my hiding place!”

When trouble comes my way,
You are my hope and stay.
When the winds of adversity blow near,
You are He in whom I have no fear.
When I am dazed, lost, or confused,
You and hope in Your Word will see me through.

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“You Have to Work It!”

“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough,” Proverbs 28:19, NKJV

“Something for nothing!”  It seems to be the way of the world.  Many are searching for the next big thing that is going to push them toward success yet when the face of work peeps around the corner they run in the opposite direction.   The truth is, life takes work and a lot of it.  Anything worth having is going to take work.  Something will never come out of nothing,  It takes an effort of heart and mind, strength, and endurance to see the results we may desire for our futures.

For example, the farmer will not dare to go out into the field hoping to reap that which he has not sown for.  If no seeds were put into the ground and the field had not been tended to – if the work has not been done, he knows that when the time of harvest comes there will be no produce, no benefits to reap from.  Yet, many still go out into the field seeking to reap when they have not planted.

“He who tills his land!”  He who works it!  He who puts forth an honest effort knowing that if he keeps persevering and keeps pushing forward eventually he will reach the point of plenty, of being able to reap off of the goodness he put into it.  Your land is what God gave you.  It is your gift, your ability, your talents, and skills.

Many put a lot of faith in things that will not produce a harvest.  Work what God gave you!  Guard what you do with your time and efforts.  Are they leading you to where you want to be?  Is what you’re doing sowing into your future?  Will you be able to reap “plenty” from the seeds you have planted today?  We only have one life to live, by the grace of God, make it count!  Work it today!  God bless you in all your endeavors today 🙂

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