“Getting a Closer Look”

 

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Once, I was traveling out of town and the hotel we were staying in had one of those beauty magnifying mirrors that swing out on an arm.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  They get up close and really personal in your face.  What you thought you looked like in a normal mirror became something totally different in this magnifying truth teller.

I often avoid those mirrors because there’s only so much truth about my face I want to see.  But, looking into these things a whole world of pores and things that seem to come out of nowhere all of sudden can’t be ignored.  The eyebrows need more manicuring than once thought.  Things need to be plucked, covered, or taken care of to present this face to the world before I left out that day.

As I said, I always avoided these mirrors but I must admit when I stepped back to see the final results I was more than pleased and fully intend on having one installed in my bathroom at home.

How often are we afraid to take a closer look at ourselves?  Not our face per se but at things like the inner man, our life, and our relationship with God.  Are we too afraid of what we’ll find when we look too closely?  Do we not want things revealed to us that may have gone by without a closer inspection?

God wants the best for His people but sometimes the best means we have some stuff that needs to be plucked and dealt with first.  We have to seek the beautifying of His Spirit in order to step back and see the glorious final results He has for us up ahead.

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. . .” 2 Corinthians 13:5

 

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“God sees more!”

And, God sees so much more! Often we can view ourselves one way, but God goes deeper. He not only sees the right now, but He sees what can be. He created you, loved you, and brought you through. He sees the potential, the gifts, and the anointing He has placed on your life. What God sees in us and for us is far more important than what we see in ourselves.

“Worship!”

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Worship is how we honor God,
taking the mind off of self.
It’s the moving of the soul and spirit,
of His goodness and praises to tell.

Worship is how we lift Him up,
to the place where He belongs.
In worship, we close our eyes to the world
to sing our heavenly song.

Worship gives Him the glory
that is due His holy name.
With all the hosts of heaven enjoined,
in Him our salvation we claim.

Darkness and troubles try to trample it out
but my worship still remains.
Through rain and floods, and storms a gale
my worship is still the same.

Through trials and tests, pain and sorrows,
it causes my worship to grow.
Hard nights and long days,
praise in my life I do sow.

No matter what’s going on around you
God is still worthy to be praised.
With hearts bowed down and eyes closed
with my hands, do I raise.

Stepping into worship I empty my heart
of all my cares and woes.
For He is the One who brings me out.
Of this, I surely know.

Getting rid of all the strife,
in worship do I release.
Putting Him on a pedestal
as my whole, my centerpiece.

God is good and God is great,
in worship, that’s what we do.
By and by, life goes on.
But won’t you worship Him, too!

“Give unto the LORD the glory due His name,” Psalm 29:1

“Our Thoughts Vs. God’s Leading”

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

I have learned, that as humans, we don’t really know what we want some of the time.  Oh, we have goals, desires, and aspirations, but often how to attain them becomes skewered in our thinking.  We may pray for God to move this obstacle out of the way or transfer that particular issue over there, and when He does, we are just not happy or totally satisfied with the results.  Sometimes things don’t look or feel like we thought it should.

That’s because as humans we have to realize our limitations.  We are not all-knowing.  We can barely get through one day with all our faculties intact, let alone for us to try to tell our own end from the beginning and what we think our tomorrows and future should look like.

We can pray about things that bother us and concern us but ultimately we have to be willing to let God lead.  And, sometimes we even have to pray that He would help us to follow that leading.  When He leads, we don’t always understand the outcome, but then again, if we did, it wouldn’t be the walk of faith, filled with trust in our God that we are called to walk.

Our thoughts can lead us into the land of wondering, but it is our daily prayer that our hearts will follow God in the pursuit of what He has in store for our lives.  The Bible tells us, “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile,” (Psalm 94:11, NKJV).  Some other translations relate that word “futile” found in the NKJV as “worthless” (NLT), “vanity” (KJV), and “meaningless” (HCSB) just to name a few.

In other words, our thoughts about a situation compared to God’s cannot be matched.  Did not the Bible tell us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Isaiah 55:8-9)?  What He knows about a circumstance far surpasses anything our intellectual capabilities can begin to even imagine.  With that being said, our thoughts take a back seat to His sovereign leading.  

As hard as it may be to let go of the wheel and allow God to steer, it is something we must do if we are to drive in the right direction and course for our best and most successful life in Him.  We have to end the constant back and forth tug of war for control of our lives and submit to the One who is in control of our lives.

 

 

“Jesus Loves You To The End!”

“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end,” John 13:1

Eventually, the love of friends fades.  As years go by we grow up and move on with our lives.  Even some familial relationships can wane with the passing of time.  But, there is one love that never quits on you.  His promise was to never leave you nor forsake you, Heb. 13:5.  He showed His devotion to His disciple right up to the end.  And daily, He shows His devotion to each and every one of us by continually being there for us, loving us, interceding for us and hearing us when we call.

I am personally amazed at His undying devotion to us.  Through all of our faults, shortcomings, and mess, He still stays committed to us even “to the end.”  This is a source of comfort and reassurance for them that are His.  Despite the tragedies of life or how much we feel like we are not measuring up, we have a Savior, nay a friend that sticks closer than a brother, Pro. 18:24.

The times and tides of life may ebb and flow, come and go, but Jesus is a solid source never to be moved.  Somebody said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!”  And, since we are here today alive and with breath in our bodies, guess what, it’s not the end.  Bolster your faith today in this great truth that no matter what it may look like right now, Jesus loves you to the end!  God bless you!

A Word for Today: “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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Dealing with defeat is more than just being discouraged.  Defeat has a way of getting deep down within the spirit of man and making them feel crushed beyond measure.  It’s more than a heavy load.  It’s carrying the weight of disappointment, hopelessness, and pain without seeing any real way of being able to experience the least bit of victory in the end.  Therefore, the shoulders slump forward without the strength to be lifted up.

How does one go one when they think they have no more power for the press of this life?  There is nothing you and I can do to overcome on our own.  A humanistic way of thinking will formulate plans over and over again but they come to nought.  Or, any measure of peace we think to feel becomes fleeting and never lasting.

In Jesus Christ, we have our ultimate source of victory.  He said, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  HE IS THE DEFEATER OF DEFEAT.  He is the power that stands aright with no competition to put Him down.  He is our way when there seems to be no way.  Our comfort when the love of people is few and far between.

There is NOBODY like my JESUS!  Ain’t that the truth!  He’s my comfort when I am comfortless.  He’s my fortress when I am surrounded by enemies.  He’s my strength when everything within me feels weak.  He has overcome anything and everything this world has thrown at Him and He stands ready to overcome for you, too.

We are far from defeated.  We are more than conquerors.  Everything that tries to convince us otherwise is a bald-faced lie from the enemy.  We are secured in Christ.  Christ has already won all the competitions of this life.  He has already overwhelmed the enemy.  He has taken this world by storm and we rest in the realm of His power, strength, and love.

To say that Christ has won is an understatement.  He has literally crushed, obliterated, and stands on the head of every adversary we may face today.  The world may think they have won but Jesus will flip the script on them every time and show who He really is.  He has “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross,” (Col. 2:15; NIV).  His enemies are being made a footstool at His feet (Hebrews 10:13; NIV).  He is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords and will conquer everything and everybody that tries to war against Him (Revelation 17:14).

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, WE ARE ON THE WINNING SIDE!  There is no defeat for a child of God.  We have too much victory available to us through the name and the blood of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Redeemer, and our Victor.

He has already overcome and we will overcome with Him!  Be of good cheer.

The Sweet Wonder of the great, “I AM.”

 

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There is so much that goes on inside of us, outside of us, and around us, that can literally make our heads spin.  There are so many if’s, and’s, and but’s that we deal with daily making us feel deflated, depleted, and downright drained.  Sometimes, it just seems that things are out of control and we can’t get a handled on anything and we have mastered or accomplished nothing.

But, I take comfort in the words God spoke from the midst of the burning bush to Moses, His prophet.  He said, “I AM THAT I AM,” (Exodus 3:14) and I am drawn into a world of sweet wonder at the love my God has for us.

The human heart can get so muddled and become so bogged down to the point that it can’t even express properly how it feels or what it wants to say.  But, the great “I AM” doesn’t need our proper articulation of words to understand our deepest needs on the inside.  In His beautiful care for us, He needs only to take a peek behind the scenes on the inside of our being to see what cares we bear.

He is our perfect heart inspector.  When you feel like you can’t get it out – seek Him out because He already knows, in His loving sovereignty, how to deal beautifully with you.

God can be absolutely anything we need Him to be.  But, God already is the great “I AM.”  Those two words with only three letters cover us, lives inside of us through His Spirit, and helps us in our most desperate need.

Photo: Pixabay/amayaeguizabal 

So, if it’s tears that’s on the menu of your heart today, that come without explanation, the great “I AM”  is the perfect set of shoulders to unload the heaviness of it all.  If life just seems overwhelming at times.  The great “I AM” is, well, greater than anything, any plan, or any thoughts against you.  Whatever may seem to overpower us will never take over Him.  He will always be in control.  During every waking moment or any sleeping night, the great “I AM”  will always be standing watch, guarding, and keeping us at those times when we can’t keep ourselves.

Photo: Pixabay/StockSnap 

I smile when I think of the wonder of it all – the sweet wonder of Him.  He really is the lifter of heart, mind, body, and soul.  He is beyond anything we need Him to be.  God, is simply, the great “I AM.”  With a period on the end of it, it closes the case on exactly who He is.

 

“Decorated in Glory”

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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.

“Be Wise In the Choices I Make”

 

Photo: PixabayArtsyBee

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes . . .,” Proverbs 3:5-7a

“Oh, that could have gone better than that!” Hindsight is a kicker. I’ve heard it said before that hindsight offers perfect 20/20 vision. I don’t remember where I heard or saw that phrase but I could not agree more. Staring down the road once traveled, seeing it littered with the trash of mistakes and bad choices changes one’s perspective.

What if we looked back and the view looked a little neater? What if the pathway that has led us to where we are today is paved with more order rather than chaos? Unfortunately, for most of us when we turn around to see where we have come from our humanness shines through. All of the frailties of life in this flesh mar the perfection that we wish to see. The good thing is you and I am not alone in this one. For only one man has been born with this perfection and lived it to the fullest, the Lord Jesus Christ. For the rest of us, it remains a goal. A pursuit for the life where the good and wise choices we make outweigh the bad and disastrous ones. Oh, what a day that will be!

The thing is that goal is not far off. God has given us assurances in His Word for a better outcome. As long as we remain on this side of glory we will continue to struggle with our flesh and the mistakes it makes. But God has given us a five-step plan to help keep us on the right track less littered. First, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.” Some mistakes are made through lack of trust. The urge to jump in and do something often hinders God’s plan and miracles He wants to perform. Not only that, when situations become so intense for someone and when the tendency to jump in is there, there is usually little thought given to the actual outcome or consequences which in and of itself births more mistakes. Ask Sarah and she will tell you her story of trying to help God fulfill his own promise, Gen. 16.

Secondly, Scripture says, “Lean not unto thine own understanding.” When someone leans on something it is for support. It is to help them steady their own self and to keep in balance. But, here in this verse, it shows one who has a self-sufficient nature and refuses to believe that help can come from anyone other than themselves. Not only is this way of thinking against God, but it also gives individuals who possess it a limited view of the world. This, in turn, causes mistakes to be made that could have been avoided had they had a broader view of things with a little outside help.

Third, it states, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him.” God is Sovereign over all creation. He was and is and is to come, (Rev. 1:8). In other words, He is everything that we have ever needed and still do. Acknowledging Him is a respect issue which actually ties in with the trust we see in the first step. The respect comes from recognizing that no matter the plan or goals we set, He has the final say. He can bless it and move it along or veto it right where it stands. But, because we are acknowledging Him and bringing it before Him, we are saying, “Lord, I trust you with this.” Boy, does He love that! For instance, no natural child should go out, be gone all day and all night and into the next day and never bother to “acknowledge” to his/her parents their plans. It’s a respect issue that helps bind together the trust in that relationship. The same is true with God.

Fourth, it says, “And He shall direct thy paths.” He will show you the good way, the blessed and prosperous way because the proceeding steps were followed through. One thing is for sure if God is leading the way and we are following His directions that pathway is going to look a lot more orderly. Direction in life means everything. There are already too many people wandering aimlessly without a point of destination or purpose. They’re headed nowhere because they have no direction. God wants better for us. When He directs, go that way.

Finally, a re-assertion of the main problem, “Be not wise in thine own eyes.” Don’t look at His directions and think that you can come up with a better plan. I can tell you this, we may not always understand what He is doing, but our job is to “be not wise in our own eyes,” and follow His marching orders. Think back, what if the children of Israel had not marched around Jericho as instructed. Entrance in the Promised Land would have been prohibited again!

Just because we don’t understand what the plan is to bring down these walls before us, it doesn’t mean we can’t see success in the end. Our victory will come in following His directives. And that, my dear, will help us every day to be wise in the choices we make.

“When they speak against your possibilities . . .”

Numbers 13:26-33

I don’t know what you think about when you think about the idea of a Promised Land, but I can tell you what I think about. I think about a place of hope. I think about the word destiny. I think about stepping into something new and embracing the opportunity to leave the old behind.

The Promised Land was, for the children of Israel, exactly as its name describes. It was told hundreds of years before that this land would belong to them. This was going to be a place of ownership. This was going to be a place of heritage. Their inheritance, blessings, and promise for a pleasant, abundant and happy life would be in this land.

After being freed from bondage, God was now ready for them to finally take hold of all that He had in store for them. So, He instructed Moses to gather a delegation of men to go and spy out the land. He specifically said in Numbers 14:2 “Send thou men, that they may search out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel . . .”

God already had it made up in His mind that this land; this promise was theirs. “I’m giving it to them,” He said.

He’s telling them, “I have a place for you. I have a destiny for you to walk into; place where you belong.”

So, with great joy, I’m assuming, these men marched forward, chosen to be the first to view the promise of God. They would be the first to walk on its soil; the first to see the land; the first to see the people; and, the first to see the rewards of the fruit.

The Bible says they went up and searched the land and they returned from searching after 40 days and they brought back a little show and tell segment. They brought back proof of the promise.

They had evidence of their future blessing right in their hands and it was HUGE! A cluster, not many clusters, but a cluster (one cluster, one branch) that was so big it took two men to carry it on a staff between their shoulders. What God had in store for them was phenomenal.

So, when the Bible says, “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,” oh, honey, you better believe it.

But, here’s the kicker. They had the evidence in their hands but still didn’t believe the promise was for them. The world says, “Seeing is believing.” Right here is proof that the world is lying to you. They saw and still didn’t believe. On the other hand the Bible says, “The just shall walk by faith and not by sight,” (2 Cor. 5:7) and here’s why because it is always better for you to believe in what God said than what you can see with you natural eyes.

With their natural eyes they could see the promise, but they could also see a problem. They said, “We came into the land and surely it flows with milk and honey and fruit,” (Num. 13:27). Surely means without a doubt it’s there. Without a doubt everything that God described it to be for us, it’s there.

“Nevertheless!”

How did they move from “surely” to “nevertheless?” Immediate doubt moved in. Doubt is a robber of dreams and a drainer of possibilities. Doubt causes you to be uncertain when God already said it is certain. Doubt causes you to hesitate when God already said to move forward. Doubt causes you to give up when God says you can do this.

Who are you going to listen to: doubt or God?

Unfortunately many of us are making the same mistake as the children of Israel and they listen to the voice of doubt; they listen to those who speak against their possibilities instead of God.

In verse 28, their doubt turned into excuses. It doesn’t take long for your doubt to convince you that it’s right and you have a legitimate excuse not to pursue that passion; that dream; that promise.

“The people” became their excuse to keep them from their possibilities. When push comes to shove, more often than not, it’s always more about “people” than it is about God. That’s why many of us don’t see the results of Promised Land living because of the “people.” Usually it’s their criticism or fear of rejection or dealing with their jealously that lets people get in the way.

For them, their excuse was they “are strong.” We see the land but we can’t have it because they are bigger than us; they are better than us; they are stronger than us; they are greater than us, and we can’t match up to that expectation.

Who told you to match up to man’s expectation when God who created you and gifted you and said, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light,” (1 Pet. 2:9). When God said at other times, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise,” (Is. 43:21).

But there was one who refused to get in line with that loser mentality; one who shunned the thought of being defeated by an enemy when he knew God was on their side. There was one who took a stand against this destructive thinking and said, “Let us go up at once!”

He stuck with the word “surely” and threw off the “nevertheless!” Get a Caleb mentality and refuse to let a bad report rob you of your destiny. Don’t let anybody speak a “nevertheless” into your situation. Don’t let anybody get away with putting “buts” and “what ifs” in your mind. Don’t let anybody speak negative about your promise. Take a Caleb stand and protect your possibilities.

He made his mouth match up with the message of God. He got into agreement with what God said and not man and said, “Let us go up at once!” And, not just “go up,” but when we get there we’re going to do something about it; we are going to “possess it!”

“For we are well able to overcome it!” Confidence begins first in getting into agreement with God (which Caleb did). Then, you have to believe in the gift He put in you. You have to have the confidence of Caleb and say, “we are well able.”

He could have just said, “we are able,” but he went a step further in his faith and declared, “we are well able.” Adding that word “well” to the equation means we’ve more than got this.

Doesn’t our Bible tells us that we are “more than conquerors?” (Ro. 8:37). What Caleb was saying is the destiny of reaching and claiming the Promised Land is for us.

Our promise is for us. It fits us. It looks good on us. “What God has for me it is for me!”

The problem is we need to take it out of the song and apply it to our lives. Start thinking like Caleb and refuse nothing less than your promise. Take a stand against negative people speaking about your possibilities!

After Caleb said, “We are well able,” here come the naysayers again, saying, “we be not able.”

They couldn’t see themselves overcoming. They couldn’t see themselves walking in victory. They didn’t mention anything about having faith in God or His ability to see them through. They just said, “No! It looks good but I’ll never have it.”

“I wish I may, I wish I might, but it’s not a wish I’ll have tonight.” They couldn’t see themselves in it. “Without a vision the people perish!” (Pro. 29:18).

There was one father in the Bible who had a vision to see his son made whole again. His son was demon-possessed and came to Jesus seeking deliverance, declaring, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief,” (Mark 9:24).

He knew if given the opportunity, his flesh would get in the way of seeing a great miracle happening for his family. “I see myself, Lord; I see my family; I see my son restored and walking in the promises of God.” “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

He was not going to let a seed of doubt get planted into his spirit and erase his blessings because that’s what doubt does; it cancels out blessings.

But, the men in today’s text couldn’t see through the lens of belief. God can do it for this one and that one, but not for me.

They relied more on the flesh; more on their own strength, saying, “They are stronger than we,” than the God who brought them through thus far. Psalms 118:8 tells us, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Man will fail you. Your own strength will fail you. Somebody said, “But God . . .”

Not only did they not see that God’s blessing was for them, but they brought themselves low with their speech. They talked about how “great” they are, and at the same time said they themselves were nothing.

“We were in our own sight as grasshoppers.” They didn’t say this is how the enemy saw them, but this is how they saw their own selves. The battle they fought before ever coming against anybody else was the battle in their mind: “we were in our own sight as grasshoppers.”

Listen, God doesn’t bring you to the edge of the promise just to turn you around and say, “Sike! I was just playing. Go back.” If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

God’s intention was for them to go in, take the land, and possess it. But, they lost the battle in their mind before they ever set foot in the land.

They didn’t give God a chance! This is only the same God, who delivered the 10 plagues; who divided the Red Sea; who did miracle after miracle. But, when it came to their promise they wouldn’t give Him a chance, for if they did they would have gotten in line with Caleb’s way of thinking and say, “we are well able.”

Too many of us feel too small for where God wants to take us. God has big plans but we don’t see ourselves as big enough. We feel outsized by what lies ahead. We can’t get past what others are speaking about our possibilities, and so, we close up the door of faith; we slam shut the way to victory never fully realizing the greatness of His promise for your life.

Yes, there are always going to be barriers (real or imagined). Yes, there will always be giants. But, you and I have to have enough faith not to be overwhelmed by what we see with our natural eyes. We have to have enough in us to look past how we view ourselves; how they view us, and see something bigger!

1 John 4:4 says, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

The promise may seem too big for us, but it’s never too big for the God in you. “Greater is He that is in you!” God is never outsized by anything. God dwarfs to nobody, and He’s working in you!

Stop listening to the negativity about your promise. Stop paying attention to the naysayers. You are NOBODY’S GRASSHOPPER!

As a matter of fact, we need to say that to ourselves, “I AM NOBODY’S GRASSHOPPER!”

Therefore, stop listening when they speak against your possibilities.