“You Are Loved by the King!”


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You, my friends, are so very much and incredibly loved by the King of all the universe.  There is so much that we face on a daily basis that tries to speak contrary to the blessedness we have in Him.  But, my God loves you with an undying love.  His heart is tied to His people.  His people need only to rest in the promises of His mercy, grace, power, and authority that makes their hearts soar on the wings of the hope we have in Him.

Today doesn’t have to be ordinary.  Today doesn’t have to control you.  Today doesn’t have the final say about your destiny in life.  When it all boils down to it, you have a reason to rejoice because your heavenly Father’s eye is on you.  He has marked you for greatness in Him.  You are covered and shielded by His love.  Therefore, let your heart be glad in the majesty of your Savior.  Let your soul celebrate because no matter what it looks like, you are a cherished vessel and you are loved by the King of all!

“We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

 

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“Decorated in Glory”

Photo by Ariel Besagar on Unsplash

Being called to the front of the assembly to receive awards of excellence was one of my greatest joys in my private elementary school.  One year I excelled in every category, so instead of receiving multiple name calls of recognition – I was given one all-encompassing award.  I remember not liking it one bit.  An over-all award meant specifics were not being named in front of my peers and others, and I didn’t have the pleasure of playing the role of jack-in-the-box in my seat with my constant popping up and down to receive individual accomplishments.

As we get older in life we realize every achievement does not need to come with applause or recognition (at least, not here on earth anyway).  But, in heaven, your works are going to be rewarded.  You and I are going to be decorated in glory.  These rags of humanity will be replaced with robes of righteousness.  As a soldier being medaled for victories, we shall be adorned and dressed in the finest of the heavenlies, telling our story of overcoming.  We made it through and now He speaks, “My reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be,” Revelation 22:12.

Take heart.  What you do today may escape the notice of man but the eye of the Lord sees it all.  And, when we get to that heavenly city we will have all the recognition we will ever need.  For it is there we receive the greatest thing no earthly prize can give: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” Matthew 25:21, 23.

And, that’s all the glory one needs to be decorated with.

“SHINE!”

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“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and
more unto the perfect day,” Proverbs 4:18

Some days are glorious and some days are not.  Some days you need an umbrella and some days sunscreen.  Some days call for winter scarves and gloves, and some call for shorts and gear for swimming.  Some days are bright and beautiful, while some days never seem like they come out of the dreary season.

I would venture to say that this world is in a dreary season no matter what the temperature is outside. But you and I, we bring a taste of something better in the midst of all the gloominess. We are like the sun breaking through the clouds giving people a glimpse of hope. Our lives are as a “shining light” showing people a better way to live.

Turn on the local news in any city and most likely it is riddled with violence, tragedy, and suffering. Very rarely are there any good deeds or acts of kindness spotlighted. It seems the longer the world remains the tougher times get. The epidemic of sinfulness that began in the Garden of Eden keeps spreading and infecting men and women everywhere.

Oh, but the “just.” Those who are made right in the eyes of God we don’t walk the way of the world. We glow differently! We sport in our being the essence of the ultimate light, our Lord Jesus Christ. “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” (John 8:12). We have the “light of life” and we shine!

Proverbs 4:18 goes on to tell us that we shine “more and more unto the perfect day.” While we are in Christ we are getting better and better, and as a result, our light should be shining brighter and brighter. How else would this world ever get a break from always viewing the dreariness of life if we don’t shine?

Our “paths” make a difference. The things we do and the things we say show people something wonderful that they’re not used to seeing. The way we carry ourselves and our dispositions make people wonder, “What’s gotten into you?”

The light of Christ, that’s what! I can’t help but shine!

When we shine people become attracted to us like a magnetic pull. The more they see the more they may want to know what makes you glow. Then, they, in turn, may want to learn how to glow, too.

No matter what the thermometer says or what the temperatures are predicted to be.  No matter if we have sun or not, warm or cold temperatures, you can still be that ray of light shining in someone’s life today.

SHINE ON!

 

God Gets Personal!

 

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Omnipresent and personal, those words are kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think?  Yet, that’s what God is known as.  He is never kept within the walls of the status quo erected by the human mindset anyways.

Yes, omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) and personal (individually based)  are contradictory in the finite statement of the human mind, but not in the loving nature of God.  When we think of omnipresent we think of God’s work as being far-reaching.  He can extend His love, power, and authority through an infinite number of channels to touch an infinite number of lives all at the same time.  Yet, the heart and life of each individual soul are precious to Him.  You and I are a special creation to Him.  Fashioned uniquely.  Designed particularly to be you.  And, loved personally.

This is a role only God can fill.  He can govern the universe while at the same time lean in close to hear from you; paying special attention to just you.

So, if you feel lost in the vastness of all that is going on in your world today, be encouraged.  The same God that is running everything also has His eyes focused on you personally.  The same God that is everywhere all at once is reaching specifically to your heart.  And, there He gets personal with you.

 

“Learning to Let Go!”

Learning to let go

 

Once, I took a much-needed vacation with family and friends.  I haven’t had a real one in years.  Every part of me, inside and out, needed a break from schedules, routines, and the normal day-to-day.

During this vacation, I was privileged to do and experience things I haven’t before.  Two of the things especially of note were the zip lines and the quick jump.  Both required jumping from the top of a high platform or rock wall and both really stretched me out of my comfort zone.

Don’t get me wrong; zip lining was a blast, but in order to get down off the landing platform I was attached to a sort of supportive rope that would grab you and lower you gently as you made your descent.  In order to activate the rope, the instructor told me to just step off.

Huh?!

Watching others from the ground it didn’t seem that big of a deal but standing on the platform for yourself was a whole other story. It was higher than it appeared and I am not too fond of heights, to begin with.  Standing there looking down the instructor repeated her directions: just step off or jump.

Just step off or jump …???

With my eyes, I saw the rope catch and lower each person that used it.  It never failed to do its job.  But, my body had trouble taking that leap of faith.  All I simply had to do was let go and depend on the equipment to do its job.

A lot of times we face difficulties and challenges in life, things that stretch us way out of where we are used to being.  Then, we are asked to trust God; to just step out and depend on Him as our unfailing equipment.  Often our response is the same as mine standing atop that platform.

Huh?!

The mind knows all the promises of God.  The heart has digested His Word and has been filled with His Spirit, yet to just step out and let go  . . .

It’s a lot harder than we first imagined.  To let oneself freefall into trust where you have absolutely no control but to lean on Him takes courage.

But, this is the kind of courage and trust that makes our heavenly Father’s heart swell.  Knowing that our confidence is so strongly planted in Him, we just hold on and depend on Him to take us down from those high platforms of life – well, let’s just say, that’s all He ever asks from us is to lean and depend on Him.

Every challenging story in the Bible and every hero in the great hall of faith (Hebrews 11), each one started with that one-step-of-faith moment; one learning-to-let-go experience, trusting wholly in God for the end results.

Are you facing a challenge today?  Are you being stretched beyond your comfort zone?  Do you have goals that seem too big for you to accomplish by yourself?

You don’t have to do it alone.  Let go, and let God.  See where the end results will be in Him.

As far as those high platforms for the zip line and quick jump, I eventually sat down and scooted off.  No flash or show.  The rope was activated and did its job.  The point is I did it, in my own way, and let go.

Step off and let God’s power be activated in your life today.

“God Wanted More!”

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When we think of the vastness of God’s power stretching from history to history, and eternity to eternity it can leave one with an awe-inspired feeling.  As I read through the Word I am always left in amazement the strategy and planning God did to bring certain events into place, including our salvation.

When God first called Abraham out to establish a people for Himself through him, God did not rest in the satisfaction of just having one people or nation as His.  He wanted it all.  He wanted the world.

Isaiah 49:6 tells us, “It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”  Instead of the words “light thing,” the New King James Version says, “It is too small a thing” which means the same thing but shows us a deeper level of God’s plan and His heart.  It wasn’t enough for God to be content with the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, to touch and affect the lives of a single race or family.  God wanted more!

God’s thinking for salvation was too big in scope and depth for His heart to settle for reaping the souls of just a single kindred or nationality of folk.  As far as His love (which can never be measured by human standards) reaches – that’s how far He wants to grab a hold of people and love them as His own.  He couldn’t rest with just saving some, but He wanted the sum of humanity to have a chance to experience this awesome deliverance.

God always wanted more.  His intention was that all the families of the earth be exposed to this offer of salvation (see Genesis 12:1-3).  I don’t know about you but I’m glad God wasn’t satisfied with “some.”  In His high degree of love for people, His thinking was bigger.  Because of that, everyone has the opportunity to be in the “sum” of the saved; to be a part of that heavenly number if they will answer His call.

You, my friends, are the “more” that God has always wanted.  You were always in God’s plan.  You were always on God’s mind from the beginning.  You have always mattered to God and He wants you in that heavenly number.

“Dealing with Contentions in the Midst of Blessings”

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“And Abimelech said unto Issac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we,” Genesis 26:16

Oh, how wonderful we feel when God opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessings into our lives, Micah 3:10. It feels good! And, it doesn’t matter if the blessing is material, physical, spiritual or emotional, if there is something that God wants to do that is special for us, we take joy in receiving from the goodness of our heavenly Father.

One of my favorite verses that keeps me in check and reminds me of just how awesome He is in this area is Matthew 7:9-11. In the verses before these Jesus is teaching His disciples a few of life’s lessons. He just assured them of the “ask, seek, and knock” principle of prayer. Then, to make sure they understood how much the heavenly Father cares He further explains, “Or what man of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

God knows how to give good gifts! The problem with that is everybody is not going to like you for it. Everyone is not going to be on your side. There will be one, if not more, that will be standing in the corner, grimacing every time God decides to shower you with some of His goodness. It’s sad but true!

Human nature can get almost primal in this area. If you throw a bone to a pack of hungry dogs, what will happen? Only one dog will actually catch the bone, but the others will be on a continual mission to take it from him because they want it for themselves. They’re hungry for it. They want to be fed, too. It’s not fair that the one got the blessing and the rest didn’t. And so, another dog will try to latch onto it to yank and pull it away from the original owner. Another also steps in and tries to get it from the previous two. And on, and on it goes. Until one is successful to lie hold of it and run to safety.

I’ve seen this play out with seagulls also. You throw a piece of bread out for one and suddenly there are what seem to be a hundred gulls thinking they can all survive off of that one piece. They swoop down to grab the bread and try to fly away with the prize, only another has his eye on it and does the same. It becomes a never-ending circle of desire and wants that moves to the contentions of, “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” Swoop! It’s mine!

The same scenario played out for Isaac. God was keeping His promise that He made to Abraham and his son was reaping the rewards of it. God had truly blessed Isaac. “Then Isaac sowed in the land and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants…” (Genesis 26:12-14).

He was blessed! But, the remainder of verse 14 clearly states that not everyone was happy about it. It says, “And the Philistines envied him.” They then put into motion a plan to try to hold down his blessings. “For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth,” (Genesis 26:15). As they stopped up the wells their hope was to stop the blessings.

Afterwards, the king of the Philistines, Abimelech, just out and out told him, “We don’t want you here anymore – get out!” If they can’t stop the blessings then they don’t want to be around you while God is blessing. Why? Because it hurts to see some receive and some don’t. Humanity doesn’t like it like that, unless, of course, they are the ones on the receiving end of it.

It’s a hard pill to swallow. I’ve been on both sides of this fence: the side of being blessed and the side of watching others get blessed. Oftentimes, I didn’t always understand, but that’s just the way it was. Like it or not, I have to believe in God’s sovereignty over it all. Did it always register right away? Um, no. For I am human also and don’t always see things as God does. (If I’m going to write about it, I have to be totally honest about it.)

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that as God moves on our behalf to elevate us and bless us, that contentions can arise. What do we do then? First and foremost, is to trust God. After being kicked out, Isaac went from one well to another, there was always a fight with someone about it. Isaac could’ve gotten ticked off, but he kept trying to find where God was leading. Just because you are blessed by God doesn’t mean you can settle anywhere. You have to be where God wants you in order to continue to grow in Him. That requires trust.

Eventually, Genesis 26:22 tells us, “And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not…  For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” If one keeps following the leading of God, God, in turn, will put you in a place where the gifts and blessings He has given you will thrive. You are not going to just flourish anywhere. You have to be where He can ensure your growth.

If that weren’t enough, God made those that hated Isaac to be at peace with him. “We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee… let us make a covenant with thee,” (Genesis 26:28). They came to him. They sought him out to seek reconciliation. How did it all end? Very good, I might say. “And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace,” (Genesis 26:30-31). All grudges and animosity were gone and peace entered in.

The Bible says, “the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water,” (Genesis 26:32). This was refreshment for the body and soul after dealing with such contentions. I think that means he was finally where God wanted him to be, in mind, body and spirit. The water didn’t come until the covenant for peace was made.

When God blesses there will sometimes be contentions to deal with from others. But, we too, have a responsibility in the midst to try to go as God leads us and to still keep the peace.

Devotion – Dealing with Failure

dealing with failure

I don’t know about you, but I have made many mistakes in almost every area of my life.  Every “i” has not been dotted, nor every “t” crossed.  If I would begin to go down the list and check off all the goof-ups, blunders, and short-comings it would tell a story most don’t get to see on the outside; a story of blemishes on my record marred with many imperfections.

Failure and mistakes are some of those things that are hard to overcome for some.  Mess-ups have a way of smearing defeat in one’s face making them feel that there will never be a space for recovery and restoration.  But, God is a God of restoration.

The children of Israel had a propensity of straying from the will of God and messing up on several occasions (actually more than several but who are we to judge).  Knowing their history, when Solomon was praying at the temple dedication, he included a plea for restoration from the sins and mistakes of the people.  He prayed,

“When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:

Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.” (1 Kings 8:33-34)

In the above verses, we see a pattern to deal with defeat: 1) Pray and confess the wrong or mistake; 2) Let God restore.  Now listen, even if what one has “failed” at does not necessarily qualify as sin, such as one may wish they had spoken better to someone else or, in hindsight one realizes they could have put more effort on a project, or it was just an honest mistake of accidentally overlooking something or someone – whatever the cause innocent or not, I believe the same model that King Solomon laid out can be applied to just about every situation.

Point number one: Any mistake, honest and innocent to sin and wrongdoing, can be taken to the Lord in prayer.  1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  Not just your worries and disappointments, but every care that deals with situations that make one say, “Boy, I sure messed that up.  Now what?”

Taking things to God in prayer allows Him to work on your case and opens up the doors of grace to be released in one’s life.  Which leads to the second point: let God restore and work on your case.  Solomon’s prayer said, “Bring them again unto the land,” which speaks of the opportunity to set things straight and start over; another chance to experience recovery of the Lord’s healing over the situation.

God specializes in fixing the broken and healing what others thought was impossible.  Trust Him with everything that is bothering you and let Him work it out.

If the cause of failure is due to sin, confess it and get rid of it (seek spiritual counsel from a pastor or leader for help).  If one has made a mistake that’s keeping you bound in doubt, pray for His deliverance even in this.  God is standing at the ready to repair the brokenness and bring healing to the land.

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me,” (Micah 7:8).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved,” (John 3:16-17).

“God is Forever Faithful!”

 

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness,”

Lamentations 3:22-23

There seems to be news every day of more and more people experiencing hardships in their lives. There are stories of loved ones that didn’t return home. There are stories of weather disasters wiping out cities. There are stories of our young people and teenagers struggling. There are stories of corrupt politics; a crippling economy, job layoffs and firings, and more.

You name it and it’s out there. The daily news is littered with the truth of the sorrow that can penetrate into anyone’s life on any given day; stories that cause one to just shake their head and feel the pang of sympathy for those going through. Nobody wants to experience hardships and nobody wants to see anybody else having to suffer with it either.

It is during these times when we have to fight the most to remember the sovereignty of God. When we have to continually pound it into our heads that He is in control and “His compassions fail not.” Life may seem very, very bleak at times but God is still on His throne and “great is Thy faithfulness!”

Going through the hardships and the disappointments of life are hard enough, but when we start attributing the human characteristics of short-comings to a divine God, we rob ourselves of an unfailing assurance.

It’s hard to keep one’s head above water during times of crisis. It is at that time when we need our safety float the most. Then is when we need to remember that God has never failed and He is not about to start failing today. He is forever faithful!

Even in the book of Lamentations after the people went into captivity and Jerusalem became desolate, Jeremiah penned words that still inspire to this generation. They became words that have resonated God’s faithfulness in song; words that recognize that God is still there with His people.

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope,” (Lamentations 3:20), Jeremiah writes. This is a made up mind focused on all that God has done through you and for you; seeing how He has moved in times past in your life. Looking back and remembering the prayers that He has already answered brings to the forefront of your mind all the successes He has allowed you to experience. Let that store up for you an arsenal of truth that fights for you and will declare “He is faithful!”

Don’t measure God faithfulness by your present circumstances.  God never promised the absence of hardship or adversity in our Christian walk. But, what He did promise, in His faithfulness, to be in it all the way with you (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised),” Hebrews 10:23.  The pathway we have walked may not have been all peaches and cream, but God was there with us and brought us through to this day because He is faithful.

Text Free Photo Source: Pixabay

“I Believe God!”

Photo: Pixabay

In the midst of the storm, he was tossed.  A prisoner shackled by iron, but not held down in his faith.  The Apostle Paul has been through some rough patches in life but even now he stands by his faith, and says, “I believe God!” (Acts 27:25; NKJV, read Acts 27).

There are moments when life will make you scratch your head with wonder, thinking, “What the world is going on around here?  I have stood the ground of faith.  I have walked the path of the Lord, and yet, now I am facing a ferocious storm that wants to capsize everything I believe in.  I face waves of adversity come without notice and slam against my body, my mind, and my heart.  What’s going on?!”

If you have never faced that head scratching, heart-searching moment, then I celebrate with you.  But, if you, like most of us, have stood on the bow of the boat, with a raging storm all around; thundering, lightning, and the very real fear that in a moment’s notice everything could go really wrong really quickly, then you know the quandary it places you in: give up and forget everything that has gotten you to where you are; or, secure yourself for the ride and hold on.

The Apostle Paul chose to do just that.   The storm hadn’t changed.  As a matter of fact, it grew worse.  Yet, he anchored himself in God.  Paul held on to the promise of God and boldly stated, “I believe!”

In God’s Word is light and strength to hold on to during the darkest and stormiest of days and nights.  Some days require more encouragement than others.  Some nights need the comfort of God holding you so close through His matchless words that say, “I am here for you.  You are not alone.  Come, find comfort and solace in Me and rest your weary soul.”

When He says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you,” (Deut. 31:8; NLT); Father God, help us to lay down the discouragement that tries to speak against Your promise.

When His Word speaks, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds,” (Psalm 147:3); Father God, help us to find comfort in You and trust that you are healing this situation right now; that Your hand is still bandaging these wounds the world tries to inflict upon us.

When Jesus declares, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28; NIV); Father God, help us to cast these burdens and worries at Your feet and accept the peace that You want for us in our hearts.

Like the Apostle Paul, we have to choose to believe God over what’s raging around us.  Storms are frightening and life can be tumultuous, but Father God, help us to hold on to You, and just believe.