Archive for January, 2018

The Goodness of God

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

I love that warm-gooey feeling I get on the inside when something good happens. It happens when I witness someone carrying an elderly person’s groceries out to their car. It happens when I see someone receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. It happens when I let someone into a line of cars exiting a parking lot who’ve been passed over by countless vehicles. It happens when you see a family in need receive an envelope of money, anonymously donated.

Does that happen to you? Do you experience some form of joy when you see good, noble, moral, and respectable things happen? It feels good to see and/or experience these blessings in life. Why?

I ponder about this often: why we seek the good and noble things and abhor the evil. We don’t cringe when we see a lost puppy returned to its owner, or a child reunited with their parents. We don’t scoff when the needy are blessed or the sick receive healing.

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good… (Psalms 106:1, KJV).

We’re given countless verses in Scripture that give us the answer to this question. Quite simply, God is good. What He makes is good. He spent the days of creation examining His works and calling them good. He created all of us, and we too seek to be good (I Peter 1:15–16).

We are made in God’s image or likeness (Genesis 1:27). We are called to be holy and good because God is such. And, in the basic explanation, we desire the good and moral things in life because our Father in Heaven is good. It’s a part of our core DNA. It’s our natural desire.

This in itself is an incredible blessing for all of mankind—the goodness of God. Why? Could you imagine a world that sought cruelty and evil because their God was evil? Could you fathom if God was anything but good? We aren’t seeking a life of death and destruction. We don’t know that to be the norm. We don’t desire to live in a sad and burdened world.

Our God is good, so we aspire to be good and appreciate the good things. We have a true gift in knowing our God is good. But, God’s goodness is something we take for granted, and I don’t think we truly understand the blessing of the goodness of God.

I encourage you today to examine the world we live in. Look around you and see the blessings of God. In all of what God reveals to you, be thankful for His goodness. What you see and know would be completely different if it weren’t for the good God that we serve. And, you can join the Psalmist in saying: Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!

A Book’s Cover

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

You know how people say never to judge a book by its cover?

Well, I hate to admit it, but I do. When I’m rummaging around a used bookstore or racks at a conference, the moment I lay eyes on a book I know instinctively if it’s good or bad. I’m not a book snob or anything—I just know what I’m looking for.

A book doesn’t have to be new and sparkly to attract my attention or desire. Some of my favorite books have been hunted out of a large pile, and have cracked spines, frayed covers, pages falling out, and they look worn (to say the least). My judgment upon those books has been the mark of a good read—they’re worn out because someone else wore it out from reading it so many times.

But, I also love unique or whimsical book covers. There’s not a lot of judgment that surfaces here. Who wouldn’t want that book sitting on their shelf? If anything, they become great conversation pieces or fun décor. And, then I have reverse-judgment on some books: if the book doesn’t look promising, I expect it to be promising, and I await it to prove me wrong.

But, while I’m on the confession docket, I’ll note that I do this with people too. It’s a struggle and I repent for it often. I look at the outside of a person (their cover) and assume what their story will be.

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men (II Corinthians 3:2, KJV).

Not to give myself any excuse, but this is why Scripture tells us to watch what we do and look like on the outside. We’ve got to watch our covers because people judge us just like books.

Our lives are an open book to anyone who chooses (or doesn’t choose) to read them. If our lives portray Jesus, we will be the Living Word in someone’s life. But, if we live opposite of Christ, people won’t want to read our story because of our sin-stained cover. They might disregard us as having a “not-so-interesting” life story. They’ll judge us hard.

God reminds me daily that our covers today don’t necessarily reflect what we’ll be in the future. We’re all at a point in our journey with Christ and improving every day. But, my cover can reflect just that—I’m not who I should be in Christ today, but I’m on my journey to be more like Him tomorrow. And, others can see that truth when they look at my cover. I can draw them in an instant because of it! Judgment adverted!

Our covers don’t need to be flashy, or the most expensive to be a good book for someone to read. We can be exactly who we are, the way God designed each of us—plain or crazy-looking—and still reach a life by living His. We can bring the Gospel of Jesus everywhere we go, and be an open book to be read by all.

In truth, if we work to decrease so He can increase in our lives, people won’t even see our cover. They’ll just see Him, read the story, and have their lives changed in the end. And, that’s all that matters when we stand before God in eternity and are judged by what our cover really looks like.

God Goals: Walking Humbly

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:7–8, KJV).

A Hindrance on Humility

Humility is missing in our culture today, and it’s mostly due to social media. Anything we do that’s slightly worthy of attention is projected to the masses. It has made us desire attention—to have the world’s eyes on us and what we’re doing.

Defining Humility

Humility is difficult to define. It’s easier to measure by what it isn’t, the opposite of humility itself. Therefore, humility’s true measure is not how much you have, but how much pride you lack. Pride is the natural predator of humility and repentance it the natural predator of pride.

Most people are trying to have a relationship with God and walk with Him daily. But, there is a way in which God desires for us to walk with Him: humbly. We cannot walk humbly with God until we pinpoint what pride is in our life and eliminate it.

Pride

We have a tendency to think pride is arrogance—an outward manifestation of self-promotion, or haughtiness—thinking one is better that someone else. However, these are just results, merely outcomes. The true root is pride: it’s a cause and not a result.

Pride started with Satan. He wanted to exalt his throne above God’s and be like Him (Isaiah 14:13–14). Today, pride manifests itself in spiritual form, and is identified in us when we pursue self-will, a mentality of “I will.” God wants to attack our pride and remove it from us so we can truly walk humbly with Him.

Walking Humbly

While we’ve been striving to set God-goals in our life, our goals are prone to pride. To be humble means to be subdued and subjected. Our goals need to not only glorify God, but be subjected and submitted to God. We must take all of our plans and make sure the end result is about Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:24).

Everything is better when we walk humbly with God. Even if our flesh or the world tells us different, it’s better to submit ourselves to Him and let Him govern our lives (Proverbs 16:19).

If We Don’t Walk Humbly, God Will be Against Us

We’re commanded in Scripture to be subject one to another and to be clothed with humility. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (I Peter 5:5). If we think the opposition of Satan is difficult, we haven’t seen anything yet if we walk in opposition to God. Some of the worse times in our life will be when we’re running away from God and opposing His will. When pride is ruling in our life, God will be against us.

If We Walk Humbly, God Will be For Us

If we have a contrite and humble spirit, God will revive us (Isaiah 57:15). God is looking for someone to deny themselves and follow Him. He will get us through any circumstance and will exalt us in due time. We need to focus on the purpose God has for our lives and surrender ourselves to Him.

If We Don’t Walk Humbly, Pride Can Deafen Our Ears to Truth

If we don’t kill pride in our life, it can become louder than the truth of God’s Word. All of us have been guilty at one time or another in our life for letting pride have a dominant voice. In Scripture, a man named Nabal let pride overcome him. His own men aid that pride was so deeply rooted in his life that sound reason couldn’t get through (I Samuel 25:17). Don’t lose and ear to truth and humility. We must get rid of pride’s voice.

Eliminating Pride

We need to pray and ask God to help us be honest about who we are and the need for pride to be removed from our lives. If we exalt ourselves, we will be put down, but if we’re humble, God will lift us up (Matthew 23:12). If we submit ourselves to God, He’ll up us in our condition and we won’t be disappointed in the end.

Packaged on Purpose

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

I really loathe shopping. There’s something about immersing yourself in a mass of people who walk on the wrong side of the walkway, running from store to store to find what you’re looking for, and realizing the store doesn’t have your size after hours of hunting, that I don’t find relaxing…

Because of this, I’ve become an online shopper. And, I’ve discovered how much I love Amazon.

However, I am puzzled when the one, tiny item I order comes to my home in an enormous box. Its size is such that I could set it up outside in the backyard and call it my summer home. After dragging the box inside, and rifling through the mounds of green air bags (and/or wadded up paper), I pull out the item I ordered. Then, with a mass of perplexity, I compare the small item in my hand against the large box, which has now filled my entire kitchen.

Has this ever happened to you? Do you wonder why such items arrive in a box that could easily have its own zip code?

I came across information explaining why this happens. It’s because of robots. When Amazon processes orders, robots box up the items in the most transportation-efficient manner. The robots know where the items are headed and what truck they’ll wind up on. And, like a real-life Tetris game, they pre-determine the shape and size of all the boxes to best fit inside the truck, ensuring minimal damage to the items in that particular shipment.

Relax—these robots aren’t self-aware. They’ve been programmed to do this. And, I think it’s really cool. Robots essentially “think” ahead and know the best way to box an item to combat potential transportation issues. They act in the now, with the future in mind.

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 (Proverbs 3:5–6, KJV).

I find our lives are much like an Amazon shipment truck. Except the items in the shipment are the plans God has for our lives—the paths He’s ordained for us to walk upon—and God is the master-mind behind the boxing and shipping strategy.

There are a lot of circumstances in our lives that come to pass because it’s in God’s plan. They come in all shapes and sizes, and we don’t think they have the best fit for our lives.

We receive a shipment from God, open the box, acquire directions we’re supposed to follow, and we’re too caught up in how the entire packaging doesn’t make sense to us to notice the big picture. We don’t see how the one element in our life—circumstance, trial, challenge, etc.—fits perfectly into the rest of God’s plan for our life. God’s directed everything perfectly to ensure we prosper and sustain the least amount of damage in our life’s journey.

We need to trust God has the perfect plan for our lives. The boxes we receive in life are a part of the overall packing strategy. If we saw all the boxes inside our life’s shipment, it all would make a lot of sense. But, we aren’t God, and only see one package at a time.

Today, look to God, the Author and Finisher of your faith. Acknowledge His plan and will for your life. And, I promise, He’ll direct your paths. And, those over-sized boxes? You never know; God might have just wanted to give you a few extra so you could build a fort in your living room…

God Goals: Love Mercy

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:7–8, KJV).

Relationship Goals

At the start of the year, a lot of our goal-setting centers around relationships. We are all aware that relationships are hard and full of conflict. If we look back to creation, in the second generation of mankind, murder was introduced into relationships. Problems have existed in relationships ever since.

God is not surprised our relationships are a mess. There are thousands of Scriptures providing guidance to our relationships with other people. This is primarily why we try to make resolutions to try to fix them over the course of the year. But, no matter how hard we try to right our relationships, they will never be as good as we want the to be or as good as God wants them to be. The reason: our flesh.

Loving Goals

The second aspect of our goal-setting should be to love mercy. Mercy is unfailing love. In the world, we deal with love that fails, but this doesn’t fit into God’s definition of love. Unfailing love is based on a covenant relationship: loving no matter what. Jesus’ relationship with humanity is a covenant relationship because He chose to love us knowing the sinful lives we would live. He has unfailing love for us.

Unfailing Love

It’s at its Best When We’re at Our Worst

God didn’t extend mercy and love to us because we loved Him first. While we were sinners, Christ died for us—He showed us the ultimate act of mercy when we were at our worst (Romans 5:7–8). Jesus still faced the cross when He knew we would fail Him and forsake Him.

It’s New Every Morning

True mercy comes afresh daily. God’s mercy never runs out and is always extended to us. Scripture tells us that God’s compassions fail not and they are freshly available each day we serve Him (Lamentations 3:22–23).

Mercy Instead of Judgment

The opposite of mercy is judgment. When we seek after judgment, it will always leave a mess behind it. We cannot rule any relationship in judgment; mercy must triumph over it (James 2:13). Every circumstance we baptize with mercy will succeed. If we don’t extend mercy to others, we cannot be a recipient of God’s mercy in our life (Luke 6:37).

Mercy’s Greatest Enemy

The greatest obstacle to loving mercy in relationships is us. The idol of “I” will always destroy our relationships. Everything is rooted in our flesh, but instead, our relationships, although being about us, need to be for God. An idol in our relationships can be anything—who’s right or wrong, who’s responsible for hurting us, etc.

Jesus can spot idols in our hearts a mile away. In Scripture, there was a rich, young ruler who thought he had his life in order and was following after Scripture. However, Jesus found one issue—he loved his possessions more than anything (Matthew 19:21); he had an idol in his heart. No one saw it but Jesus, but he was making something important that wasn’t important. We can be trying to do something right, but be right in the middle of disobedience. Loving mercy allows God to speak to things that aren’t right in our lives.

Loving Unfailing Love

The love of God can be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. We must be born again by the water and the Spirit, and if we are, the love of God will continue to come forth in our life. The Holy Ghost will help us love mercy and seek after them in our lives.

Save a Life

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

I’ve been an avid blood donor most of my life. There’s nothing about the process that’s pleasant in my opinion—getting pricked on your finger to test your iron levels, enduring a grueling interview process of where you’ve traveled and your interactions with people, tolerating someone rubbing iodine in the crevice of your arm for a whole minute (ahhhh), and sustaining a needle stick from a fairly long metal rod…

If I haven’t made you think—“Well, sign me up to donate”—I’ve done a disservice. Truthfully, through all the discomfort of donating blood, it’s worth it. Why? Because it helps save a life. Just in case you were unaware, blood doesn’t grow on trees, it’s not fabricated in a warehouse somewhere, and it doesn’t appear out of thin air. When someone receives blood in an ambulance, hospital, or other location, it’s from people who’ve sacrificed their time, energy, and comfort.

I’ve also thought of donating my blood as an investment. Right or wrong, I’ve come to terms with the fact that donating blood every 8 weeks (56 days)—as often as I can—will help me out in the future somehow. I feel like I’m building up a reservoir of blood to tap into when I might need it in the future.

In my mind, donating blood is a lot like making disciples:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words]… (Matthew 28:19, AMP)

So, I’m sure you’re thinking—what does donating blood have to do with making disciples? I’ll explain.

A disciple is a learner or Christ-follower. Our commission is to go out and to share the Gospel with everyone. But, we don’t end with just sharing the Word. We’re called to help turn people into disciples: Christ-followers. We help people make the decision to accept the Gospel message, apply it to their life, and to take steps to become a new creature in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17).

When you set forth to make disciples for Christ, this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and investment—weeks of Bible studies, coaching, instruction, training, etc. But, we sacrifice our time, reach the lost, and help others because we know the importance of saving a life. It’s not always fun (people are frustrating), it’s hard work, and reaching out to someone who initially seems unlovable is unpleasant at times. But, it’s a life, and they’re always worth saving.

And, here’s where it gets really cool.

When you are instrumental in helping someone discover Christ, follow the plan of salvation (Acts 2:38), and begin their spiritual walk, they’ll eventually grow into someone mightily used by God. All that time, effort, and energy you’ve invested in someone might just help you in the future. You have no idea when you’ll need a word of encouragement, a brother/sister to help pray with you, or someone to help you fight the gates of hell. And your disciple, might just be that person who will be there for you, being the one supporting you through your trial. Your investment in soul-winning and disciple-making will affect your future.

And, just in case you don’t see the return on investment in this life, God will surely show you in Heaven. With the dawn of the new age of eternity, you’ll find yourself as the ruler over many cities because of the lives you helped save (Luke 19:17).

So, give your time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears, and help save a life. Make a disciple. Win a soul for the Kingdom of God.

God Goals: Doing Things Right

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13, KJV).

With the start of the new year, people have a tendency to set resolutions. However, most of the population doesn’t abide their own resolutions. It’s better to create a goals instead. A goal is a desired destination with an expected end. Scripture teaches us to set goals in our lives (Luke 14:28). Paul even stated that he had set a goal to press toward the mark of the high calling in Jesus (Philippians 3:14). But, in all of our goal-setting, we need to make sure we set the right kind of goals.

Solomon was David’s son. When God came to him in a dream and asked him what he wanted, instead of asking for riches and fame, Solomon asked God for wisdom to do the job God called him to do. We consider Solomon one of the wisest men in the Bible.

The book of Ecclesiastes was Solomon’s journey to discover life. He used all of his resources to find life lessons. In all of his research, he discovered a common theme: all of life was vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:10–11). Solomon tested everything; he knew there were variances in life, but we’d all end up in the same place. There’s only one thing that gives value to this life—fearing God and keeping His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

If we’re to set any goals in this life, they need to be the right goals. Right goals are goals that do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:7–8). Our goals need to fall under the qualifications of God’s goals. If we don’t, our goals will be nothing but vanity.

God Goals are About Us but For God

Our goals need to bring God glory. If they don’t then it isn’t a goal worth going after. We must allow God to direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9). The most important goal we can have is seeking the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

God Goals are Right Goals

We may want to be right in setting our goals, but there’s only one person who’s right—God (Hosea 14:9). We can never go wrong by making a goal by way of the Lord. He is the way, truth, and the life (John 14:6). God goals will always point us to do the right things.

God Goals are Action Goals

God has given us the power to live life above sin. If we don’t do what’s right, it’s a sin (James 4:17). A God goal can’t just manifest in our heads; we must put it into action. In order to follow a God goal, we must take steps of faith in Him. We’re called to follow after Him. The first step of a God goal is always the hardest, but it’s the most powerful.

Leftovers, Again?

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

It’s no secret that I’m a terrible cook. And, I believe the reason is because I hate cooking. This logic doesn’t hold true for other areas of my life, but I believe it’s a solid argument in this case.

I will do anything to get out of cooking. So, when it comes to not cooking, I’m an expert on strategic planning. When I create our meal schedule, I’ll determine which meals I can cook once to feed my household of two, multiple times.

This plan is all well and good until I make a casserole in a 9×13 dish that makes so much, on day three my husband looks at me and asks, “We’ve having that, again?” Truth be told, I grimace as much as him sometimes. Who really wants to eat leftovers three days in a row? It is nice to have variety in what you eat; something new now and then. And, in our house, now and then is every two days…

And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat…And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating (Exodus 16:14–15, 21, KJV).

When the Nation of Israel was in the wilderness, God fed them manna. Every morning they’d wake up, and someone in each family went out to gather what they needed to eat that day—nothing more and nothing less. The one exception was on the sixth day of the week when they gathered twice as much in preparation for the Sabbath (Exodus 16:22–23).

The concept of leftovers didn’t exist back then except for the one day each week. Every other day, God’s people received something new, and fresh to eat. If you tried my strategic meal plan back then, and attempted to make your meal last longer, you’d wake up the next day with stinky, worm-ridden leftover manna (Exodus 16:20). This is why I’m very thankful God didn’t create me back then. I’d be one of the few who’d test Him a lot just to be sure He was serious about not having leftovers most of the week.

You might not take my approach to meal planning, but a lot of us do this on our spiritual menus. We like to feast on God by filling up so full one day of the week, and then try to feed on leftovers throughout the remainder of the week. We try to make that spiritual casserole last three to four days before we realize we need to get something to eat again.

God’s already arranged a spiritual meal plan for all of us, which never consists of leftovers. He’s got something new prepared for us (manna) every day (Lamentations 3:22–23). He never intended for us to live on yesterday’s blessings, but so many of us are trying to get our last meal to stretch too far. We really miss out on the new exquisite five-course meal God has in store for us the moment we wake up in the morning.

It’s time we come and dine at the Master’s table each day. Pull up a chair and see what new meal He has in store for you—especially in 2018. He never intended for you to take the leftovers from 2017 and start the New Year with them. He never intended for you to fight your new battle with last year’s strength. He never intended for you to find peace with the dose He provided yesterday.

It’s a new day, and a fresh meal has been prepared for you in Heaven’s kitchen. You never have to ask your Father, “I’m having that, again?” Just get on your knees in prayer, and thank the Lord for the new meal you’re about to receive.