“Grateful to be Undeserving!”

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” Mark 2:17

Have you ever been looked down on? Felt as if you didn’t measure up to the standards of another? Do you have short-comings staring you in the face?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are not alone. Our society has a way of stoking the fires of perfectionism; of making one feel that if they are not in the status quo then they are defected. Predominance is the attitude here in the west where the drive for success will cause one to feel as if they have been run over because they are not moving as fast as everyone else.

At the same time, our society has produced a group of over-inflated egos that really believe they have it all together. This group is dependent on no one because their fascination with themselves has misled them to believe they are complete; they are at the peak of perfection and everyone else should strive to be like them. These groups define their success by some outward measuring post, but on the inside are lacking more than they will ever know.

In Mark 2, Jesus found Himself wedged between these two groups of people. On the one hand, He was in the house of Levi, the tax collector (whom we know as Matthew), there He was eating dinner with “publicans and sinners,” (vs. 15). On the other side of the spectrum comes the self-righteous “scribes and Pharisees,” (vs. 16) to challenge His choice of company.

The sinners knew who they were. They were the rejected. They were the ones people laughed at and talked about. They knew what a mess they were and yet, they were grateful. How could this man Jesus want to be seen talking with them, let alone eating with them? He was holy, and still, He saw beyond all their imperfections to care enough to spend time with them; to draw them nearer to Him through His love, care and genuine concern.

The scribes and the Pharisees saw no such need for a man like Him. As far as they were concerned everybody should be striving to be like them; the holy elite, the cream of the crop. Others should gaze upon their own “righteousness” and desire to mimic it. No wonder the Lord often called them hypocrites and some other stuff, (Mt. 23:13-15). Their own self-righteous attitude about the realness of their lost state kept them from receiving what this Physician had to offer – Salvation!

But, to him who recognizes that “without Me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5), Jesus says I can do something with him. To him who knows the reality of his undeserving state, Jesus looks on that humility of heart with compassion and seeks to bring healing to that soul. There is something most precious in the moment when one can look up from all their failures and disappointments to see a Savior standing there, arms opened wide, ready to take it all away. That undeserving soul becomes eternally grateful because they know who they are, and they know who He is, and they also know that He didn’t have to do it; He didn’t have to save them.

Just as with the “publicans and sinners” we know that we don’t deserve to be in the company of Jesus. But, He chose to be there with you and me. He took Himself away from the elite to spend time with those who needed Him the most. It was His choice to love us, to draw near to us, and to eventually die for us so that He could free us. He left His home in heaven to become “God with us,” (Mt. 1:23); with the undeserving. Unlike the “scribes and Pharisees,” I recognize my need for Him and I am ever so grateful.  I can truly sing:

“I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior!
I come to Thee.”

(I Need Thee Every Hour/Annie Sherwood Hawks – Hymnal.net)

Photo: Pixabay/josealbafotos

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“What God starts in you, He’s going to finish it!” Philippians 1:6

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DON’T GET DISCOURAGED BY WHAT YOU SEE BEFORE YOU NOW. Setbacks occur in life, but they do not define you if you don’t let them. You are not a finished product yet. God is still molding you and shaping you. You are currently under Holy construction and “What God starts in you, He’s going to finish it” if you don’t give up and continue to walk with Him every step of the way.

 

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Philippians 1:6

Simple words of encouragement… “God is for YOU!”

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Has discouragement tried to enter where God has placed you today? Has confusion tried to make you feel less than; as if God is not for you today?  Has your day already started off on the wrong foot?

Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation. . .,” John 16:33a. He knew that there would some days where we face trouble and discouragement; there would be times when we feel like we are in this alone. In those times, He wants to reassure us that He is for us. He has never left us. He has never forsaken us. His plans for us have a glorious end so don’t let any circumstance make you believe that God doesn’t have your back because He does. He’s here and He is for you!

Jesus went on to say, ” …but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33b; and if you are in Him and stay with Him and believe in Him, you will too. Because God is for you!

“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Sometimes we just need to hold on to His grace and trust Him to bring us through the other side of our situation.

“In Him We Live!”

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Hold on to God’s unchanging hand. Your identity is not found in the world. Your identity is not found in the labels people place on you. Your identity is not found in the circumstances that surround you. Your identity is found in God alone.

“God has planted greatness in everybody: LET IT GROW!”

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There is a special seed inside of you. In it holds potential, talent, and a beautiful gift that is ready to sprout and bring forth fruit in its season. Don’t stop the process. Don’t get in the way of the gift God wants to work through you. Let it grow!

“Encourage Yourself!”

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There are going to be times when people won’t have your back.  There will be moments when you feel like you are going alone.  Rest assured, God knows where you are in life.  Encourage yourself in the Lord even if no one else is supporting you! “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David ENCOURAGED HIMSELF IN THE LORD HIS GOD.” 1 Samuel 30:6

“…But Lord, I Thank You!” – Word For Life Says

Job 1:20-22 “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, 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.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”

Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Job 19:25-27 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”

Anytime we see a “…” in a sentence it expresses a train of thought and direction or a transition if you will.  That “…” is very important to this message.

Times of transition can be good and bad.  When one is engrossed in unpleasant circumstances a nice change of pace can be just what the doctor ordered.  It breathes new life into you and lifts your spirits high making you feel as if you are on cloud nine.  At the same time, when one is entering times of affliction, lack of any sort of substandard anything compared to what they are used to, the feelings of dread and just suffering through take over.

There are different seasons that everyone goes through in life.  There are times of joy and there are times of pain.  While we don’t mind dealing with the seasons of joy and happiness that come our way, a whole other story could be told for the times of pain and suffering we encounter.

There are seasons, even for the Christian, that come that are not too pleasant.  There are times when the people of God had to endure trials and tribulations.  There are episodes of turmoil that have wiggled their way into our families, our lives, our jobs, and our finances.

Sometimes difficult and new stuff pops up out of nowhere, things you weren’t looking to happen in this season of life, and it has blindsided you and caught you off guard.  There may be things that surprised you and now you just don’t know which way you are going.  The road hasn’t always been easy to travel.  We are looking for the new.  We need a transition.  We are in need of a “…” moment.

It’s time to move from the victim mentality and don a praise mentality.  It’s time to move from the feeling defeated mentality to no matter what’s going in my life, “…Lord, I just want to thank You” mentality.

A praise mentality says no matter the situation we are going through I still have a reason to worship.  We still have a reason to lift our hands in utter adoration!  We still have a reason to fall to our knees in prayer!  We still have a reason to believe His grace and mercy is at work in our lives!  I still have a reason to say, “Thank You!”

Job is one of the most figurative Bible characters who we surmise as suffering outside of Jesus Christ our Savior.  So, I figured if anybody can teach us how to be thankful despite what we’re going through it could be Job.

Job was a man whom God describes in the Bible as being upright and perfect, Job 1:8.  He is known for turning himself away from the path of evil, not giving it a foothold in his life.  Yet, in his righteous living, he was still susceptible to being tested in some of the worse ways possible.  He lost everything from possessions down to the very people he loved the most in life.

Job’s experiences can be summed up in that one word: suffering. Job knew suffering.  Job knew what it was like to love and lose; to have and to have not.  What’s more is he lost everything at the same time, piling traumatic event after traumatic event on till he thought his heart couldn’t take any more (read Job 1-2 for greater detail).

Sitting in a pile of ashes with seemingly nothing left, could he at least find comfort in the good word of a friend? Will they speak encouragement to help him carry the weight of his burdensome troubles?

The answer sadly is, “No.”  His friends started out with good intentions but by the time they reach chapter 4, Job’s friends became what is known as “miserable comforters.”  They decided to chime in with their opinions of what was right and wrong.  This was where their attempts at comfort went downhill.  They berated Job and blamed him for all that he was going through.

Job literally had no one and the weight of the world was upon his shoulders, but his response to his trials is what blew my mind away.  When things first began to unravel for him, in the verses we read in chapter 1 he shaved his head, fell down on his face and he worshipped.

The words that came out of his mouth were of praise and thanks.  He said, “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!

That word “blessed” is synonymous with celebrating God with praise in spite of.  That word blessed is acknowledging God is good no matter what the circumstances around me say.  That word blessed is also translated in the New and Old Testament to give thanks!  “Blessed be the name of the LORD!”  Job, with his shaved head of sorrow and humble spirit, gave God thanks amid the sorrow he was going through!

His response reminds me of Psalm 34:1 where the psalmist proclaimed, “I will bless the Lord at all times and His praise shall continually be in my mouth!”  I will thank God always and I will never stop celebrating His goodness!  I will show God gratitude always and I will never stop lifting Him up.  I will appreciate God even in this and I will never stop recognizing that He and He only is God of my life.

Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  My always for all things may not look the way I want it to right now, but Lord I thank You, is what he’s saying!  I am not saying thank you because I like problems, but I am saying thank You because I know the God I serve.  I am saying thank you because He is working on the inside to change things on the outside.  I am saying thank you because God is setting us up for a future that is glorious in Him!  Therefore, “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  I am in Christ; therefore I give thanks!  I have been washed by the blood, therefore I give thanks.  Yes, life hurts sometimes and yes, the walls come crashing down sometimes, but I owe God a praise.  I thank God for seeing me through every trouble, every storm that blows my way!  “…Lord, I just want to thank You!”

Job’s response went even further than this.  In Job 19, he said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives.”  Things were not exactly turning in his favor.  At that time, his today didn’t look any better than his yesterday.  His friends are still in his face challenging him with their accusations.  But, despite his personal persecutions, he emphatically declares, “I know . . .”

Knowing speaks of assurance. A declaration of knowing tells doubt there is no place here for you. “Know” is certain that this is what it is. And, what he is certain of is “my redeemer liveth.” God is alive and will always be alive. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Revelation 1:8).

“He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”  Job knew that God was and is the end-all of all authority, victory and power. Standing upon anything denotes mastery and dominion of said object.  Job knew where his trust lies.  In God who is victorious: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him,” (Psalm 68:1).  Paul, speaking of Christ said He, “hath put all things under his feet…,” (Ephesians 1:22).  Even this.

“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”  There is hope beyond the here and now. Physically, it didn’t look good for Job. He had “sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown,” (Job 2:7).  He, in dealing with the pain of his body and the pain of his heart must have thought there is not that much more time left. At one point of desperation, things had gotten so bad, Job prayed for death (see Job 6:8-9).

Despite it all, he knew that there was a better day beyond the corruption of his flesh.  His body, when the time came, would lie in the ground and the worms would have their way with him, but he looked forward to another glorious time when “in my flesh shall I see God.”  Things were hard for Job, but in his speech, you can still see his faith alive and active in what he believes: and he believes GOD!  Therefore, “I bless God!  I give God thanks!”

Job teaches us how to respond to God in midst of trials and troubles.  He may have been down, especially when his friends attacked him, but he still recognized God for who He is.  He basically transitioned his mentality to shift his focus from what was before him to the God who can save Him.

Yes, he grew weary and even questioned why he was going through what he was going through.  Who wouldn’t?  But, through it all you still see his faith in God come to the forefront in the midst of his story.

In the end, Job was blessed with a double portion of blessings.  God testified of Job to his friends.  God spoke up for Job and said, “My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath,” (Job 42:7).

It’s not too late for God to turn it around and to testify on your behalf.  The week of Thanksgiving is here, and this year is not over yet.  There is still room for a blessing.  And, even if not – if God never does another thing for us, can we say, “Lord, I thank You?”

At the end of the day, as hard as it may be sometimes, we must transition our thinking and say “… But Lord, I thank YOU!”

 

“Don’t Count People Out!”

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“Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” 2 Thessalonians 3:15

We all have those acquaintances in life that make us constantly shake our heads, and we feel like throwing up our hands in exasperation.  Especially when their behaviors do not line up with our beliefs.  Many of the times one can feel justified in their decision to wash their hands of that relationship and count that person out.  It doesn’t.

I’m so glad God has more patience with us than we have with one another.  In our humanness, we are so quick to give up on what we perceive as a lost cause.  Even members of our own family – oh, they may try us, but we can’t write them off.

When Jesus gave the command for His followers to be witnesses for Him in Acts 1:8, the first place that was mentioned was Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was home base.  Jerusalem was where everything started.  He wanted the people “at home” to have the first shot of this powerful, saving message.  In fact, that’s exactly what happened.  When Peter got up on the Day of Pentecost and preached Jesus Christ to the people “in Jerusalem,” a mighty thing occurred.  Acts 2:37 boldly tells us the message that was preached was their undoing.  It says, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

That’s a powerful reversal of opinion by those who in verse 23 were accused in the killing of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Bearing with people is not always the easiest thing to do, especially those closest to you.  You know a lot about them and it is sometimes hard to envision a reversal on their part, but can I tell you something, they are still souls before God.

It is easier for us to “go into all the world,” (Mt. 28:19), then to make disciples out of those closest to us.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  You might be the only glimpse of what life in Christ could be for them.  But, if you give up on them and count them out, how will they see?

Your love, patience, and attitude toward another could be their deciding factor.  “Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  What if God had given up on us?  Rather, Psalm 103:8-10 tells us, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”  We deserved the worse, but God saved us and gave us the best.  He did not give up on us!

I can readily admit that before my relationship with Christ I was not all peaches and cream, nor was I sugar and spice and everything nice.  I was a sinner.  My life was not right.  I was not born a Christian, and neither were you.  God has been very patient with me, with us, and we should return that same grace to others.

It may be a work in progress for most of us, but at least it’s in progress. Therefore, we don’t have the right to count others out either.  Our love, compassion, and desire to see them saved should always compel us to “admonish them as a brother.”  People need you today, don’t count them out.  Exhort one another in love.  We need each other so badly to make it through.  Our hearts should yearn to see all saved even when we don’t see it.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

“The Lord is on my Side!”

Oh, the grace of another day.  Yet, every day is not peachy, rather often with it comes turmoil, upset, and unrest.  Sometimes, battling the seen and the unseen.  Sometimes, fighting to keep one’s spiritual head above the waters of this life that seek to take you under.  Oh, the peace to know that despite it all, the Lord is on my side.

If you’ve ever gone to the circus, one of the most impressive feats to witness in the performances there are the trapeze acts.  It never seems to lose its awesomeness as we watch men and women fly through the air with what appears to be a complete disregard for life and limb.  Actually, it is quite the opposite.  They fly through the air with abandon because of the trust they exhibit in their partner to be by their side and to catch them at that pivotal moment; to catch them when it matters most.  There is an awesome relationship of trust that goes on between the two.  One that neither can doubt in lest the outcome be less than desirable.

What about our relationship with God?  Do we exhibit the same trust in Almighty God that these acrobats seem to place in human confidence?  Do we sport the confidence that He is by our side to catch us when we need Him the most?

Sometimes it may feel like you are in the boxing ring alone.  Well, you’re not!  Sometimes it may appear that you are fighting armies that encamp against you by yourself.  You’re not!  God is on our side and He promised to never leave us nor forsake us, Hebrews 13:5.

Daily, we are upheld by Him!  Our lives are not in our own hands rather in the hands of Him that never fails!  We may swing to and fro, sometimes feeling up and sometimes down, yet He is the ever-present strength that keeps us flying high above all these adversities, above all these troubles, above all these trappings of this world.

Difficulties will arise.  Oh yes, they will.  But, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33.  In other words, He is on our side.  He is our overcomer.  He is our victor.  He is our deliverer that will see us past all that is presently before us that we might experience the peace that He so offers.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” John 14:27.  Some may say this is easier said than done especially when the upsets of life seem to be all around and the strength to carry on, well, it’s just plain hard to find.  You’re exhausted!  I get it.  God gets it.

That’s why His Word declares and reminds every one of us, we don’t have to carry on on our own.  The Lord is on your side.  You are not in this alone.  This is the message of the whole Bible.  No matter how dim, gloomy and bleak it may seem, we are not in this alone.  We have a Strength that is beyond our human capabilities.  We have a Force fighting for us that cannot be reckoned with by human standards.  We have the one and only true God and He is on our side!

Who are you flying with today?  Secure your life in Him, let go and know that “The LORD is on my side,” Psalm 118:6.  Trust Him, He will catch the life that honestly reaches out for Him, trusts, and believes.

Text Free Photo: Pixabay/Pexels