“To Love the Unlovable”

(Luke 5: 29-32, NLT) 29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. 30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”

31 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

 

At my son’s pediatrician’s office, there are two waiting rooms – one for sick children, and one for those who are well.  The purpose of separate waiting rooms is to keep the well children from getting sick, obviously.  Children are young, and they have weak immune systems, so they have to be protected from infection and disease.  But who is there with them?  Sick or well, who is by the side of each child?  And who is it that moves among them, reaching out to administer healing to the sick, and to make sure that the ones who are well stay well and continue to develop properly?

Just like children in a pediatrician’s waiting room, some of us are sick and some of us are well.  We are all growing – some of us are much less mature than others – some of us need more attention…more care – and the ones of us who are sick have to take precedence over those who are in good health.  That’s just the obvious, natural way of it.  Wouldn’t you be in shock if you were at the doctor’s office with your sick child and you kept seeing all of these well children getting called back while your baby is leaned up against you, helpless, miserable and worsening by the moment?  You’d probably get up out of that chair and find someone to confront – you would advocate for your helpless child, wouldn’t you?

Well there are a lot of sick and helpless children of God out there, and they are stuck in a waiting room and they need someone to speak up for them.  They need to see the doctor, and they just don’t know how to get there…nor do they have the strength to figure it all out.

Brothers and sisters, we are not called to sit amongst ourselves.  We are not called to simply live out the ideal – the American Dream.  We weren’t created to sit back and enjoy a good, privileged life in the “well” waiting room of life while others are struggling and hurting – sick and tired.  The fact is, we were each created according to the purpose and call of God for our lives – which is to further His kingdom, to reach out and love those who have been deemed unlovable, to be the literal and physical representation of Jesus Christ to a lost world that is broken by sin.  That’s it, folks.  That’s our collective purpose, and sometimes we have to step out of our now to assess the how how are we living out that purpose?

The truth of the matter is that we often get wrapped up in each other – in our church lives –  and, subsequently, the heart of what we should be trying to accomplish gets lost amid the fellowship, the fundraisers, the projects, the systems, and even our worship.  Don’t misunderstand me…I fully recognize the importance of these routines.  We have to minister to the body, and it has be done in a very different way than how we reach out to the rest of the world, but we do have to continually ask ourselves, “Are we reaching far enough?”

“Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do.”

Jesus said it.  So the truth is, you’re probably going to have to associate with scum from time to time.  You might have to hug someone who is dirty.  You’ll probably have to go places that shock you and make you sad from time to time.  That’s part of it, because that’s our broken world.  That’s why we have to solidify our own faith and be the strongest and best that we can be, so that we are able to withstand the things that we encounter as we seek to fulfill our purpose as ambassadors for Christ in the world.

 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for my life.  I know that I am blessed far beyond what I deserve, and I pray that You will help me to never forget that.  As I continue to grow and mature in You, give me all of the boldness and compassion that I need to reach beyond my surroundings and love those who are broken by life.  May it all be for Your glory and honor.  Amen. 

 

 

#AbundanceForDays

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

 

When I was just in highschool, I was told by a close friend of mine that I had a tendency to be negative. Oh, when she told me that I felt a loathing I hadn’t felt before. I started thinking of other people I thought that about myself and how they drained the energy from me, and… How could she think that of me? But, I started paying closer attention to my conversation and reactions, etc., and, to my horror, I realized she was right. I cannot tell you how much I hated to admit to that.

At that point, I made it my priority to change that about myself. I didn’t want to be known as the “Debbie Downer” or “Negative Nancy” among my peers. Months went by, and with much effort I took time to think about the words that would escape my lips. But, the thoughts that entered my mind were another story. Although the negativity I dwelt on didn’t get a voice, it still caused damage to my inner peace.

I got so frustrated with myself. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I fix this? I’m trying so hard!

And then I read this Scripture.

The most important line would be the last- “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” When Jesus gave His life for us, it wasn’t just for our salvation. He ever lives to make intercession for us; to take our sorrows, our grief, our fears, our weaknesses, etc. He came that we may have life… abundant life!

Abundant- more than adequate; well-supplied; abounding; richly supplied; lavish.

When I read that, something new registered with me. I claimed to be a follower of Christ, and yet, for some reason, I didn’t feel that my life was “abounding or richly supplied.” Oh, how wrong I was! I realized I needed to work on the relationship I had with Him. Something was off. I should be experiencing unspeakable joy (1 Peter 1:8), sustainable peace (Colossians 3:15), and overflowing thankfulness (Colossians 2:7). Going forward I determined that my outlook would be clearer and my life would be lived differently.

I can’t say it’s always been easy. There’ve been periods throughout my life that were trying. I battled fear and frustration. Defeat knocked at my door. My words stayed positive, but my mind needed redemption at times. But, that was okay. I knew Who I could lean on and trust to redirect my thoughts. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Just today I heard a clip of a sermon that resonated within me. When you ask, “Why does the enemy keep attacking me?” Remember, it’s because you won’t go down! If you have to face sickness, do it while rebuking it in the name of Jesus. When regret and loss bring you to tears, quote verses of hope through your crying. Should fear take a tight grip on your life, plead the blood of The One that can break every chain!

He came so we could live an abundant life! We will not be defeated! We are blessed, protected, cherished, and provided for! We are His.

Let’s take the words of Apostle Paul and pray them over our lives today:

 

Prayer: “But we have this treasure… to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” We can live life abundantly because of You, Jesus. We thank You for that today!

 

“There Will Come a Day”

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”  And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.  (Revelation 21: 3-7, NLT)

Of every promise in the Bible, this is the one that I hold onto with the most desperation.  I can’t tell you the many times that I have had to close my eyes for just a moment to meditate on this very thing – to know, on the bad days…when I am hurting…when I am frustrated…when I am lowly and discouraged, that one day I have the promise of EVERYTHING being made new…restored…perfected…that one day my tears will forever be wiped away by the very hand that created me.  That’s something I can be comforted by no matter what happens.

I can’t help but wonder…what will that feel like?  It is truly unimaginable!  We live amongst so much heartache and hatred.  We face it every day of our lives.  It’s in everything that we watch and listen to, and it’s on the faces of strangers that we encounter, and even in the eyes of our loved ones.   Because of the rapid progression of sin in our world, hostility, distrust and heavyheartedness have become commonplace for us all.  We are used to it, so a life lived without that is not something that I think any of us could ever envision.  However, even though I can’t fathom it, I desire it.  Life without worry, pain, uncertainty, and depression – without hatred, vengefulness, mockery, and prejudice – without death, destruction, destitution, and despair – I don’t know this life…but I want to live it.  I am not worthy of this sort of freedom, but because of God’s love for me, for us, it is a gift that He stands holding out to us.  We simply have to reach out to Him and accept it.

It’s like a gift card.  It may not seem like much at the moment – just a seemingly small thing – but it holds so much promise!  I can tuck it away, and sometimes just knowing that it’s there is enough to make me smile.  When I am having a bad day, I know that I have the promise of something good, something that is completely free to me.  Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Chick-fil-A, they are all great and something nice to look forward to, but SALVATION, PEACE, ETERNAL JOY… now those are promises that I can live for each day!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for the promise of a day when we all will forever be reunited with You.  Though things here get worse what seems like every day, there is nothing I can’t endure when I know that I have the fully redeemable gift of freedom in You that never expires.  Until that day, I will hold onto that assurance, and I will give this life the best of me while I am here.  May it be all for Your glory.  Amen.

I Will…

(Psalm 145: 1-7, NLT)

I will exalt you, my God and King,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
I will praise you every day;
    yes, I will praise you forever.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
    No one can measure his greatness.

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
    let them proclaim your power.
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
    and your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
    I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
    they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

There is great power in the words that we speak to ourselves.  As silly as it can seem, there is a lot of effectiveness in taking time to speak affirmations to yourself and being intentional in your thoughts.  How you talk to yourself can affect your entire day, and furthermore…your entire life.  This is why we have to be purposeful with our thoughts.

As many of you know, I am an educator, and a big part of our lesson framework is using what we call “I will” statements to preface each lesson.  We used to use “I can” statements, but this year we modified it to “I will.”  It doesn’t seem like a very significant change really, but even just that one word changes the entire feel of the lesson.  The children used to end each lesson with an “I can” and that wasn’t always the case with each child.  Some of them couldn’t.  So now, they begin with a mindful, intentional statement that begins with “I will.”  It’s almost like a promise to oneself.

You may be wondering where I’m going here.  How does this pertain to our spiritual lives at all?

Most of the time, we know our own capabilities…or at least we think we do.  We know what we can do, and that’s how we operate in our daily lives…pushing all of the things that we know we can do until later.  Essentially, we are spiritual procrastinators!  We are busy, we are distracted, and though we may be taking time out each day to love on God a little, are we being intentional in how we approach our relationships with Him?

We need to change the way that we think and talk to ourselves.  Instead of “I can” exalt the Lord, “I can” praise Him every day, “I can” meditate on His splendor, or “I can” proclaim His greatness – we should be following David’s example of a purpose-driven life of prayer and thanksgiving by saying I will, I will, I will, I will…and then doing it…right now…because we really aren’t promised a later!

Such a seemingly simple change to make, but it can alter your prayer life and your relationship with God in a mighty way.  We should be ever growing and always changing for the better as we walk with the Lord, becoming more passionate and driven as the years go by.  However, sometimes we get bogged down, that inner fire diminishes to nothing more than a tiny glowing ember, and we are simply moving from moment to moment – grace to grace.  It happens.  That’s just what life does to us sometimes, because of sin and imperfection, but this is the exact point in our lives when we have to decide to make a change and rekindle the flame.

So say to yourself today, and every day:

 I will exalt you, my God and King,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
I will praise you every day;
    yes, I will praise you forever.

 I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
    and your wonderful miracles.

 I will proclaim your greatness.

Make these promises, and keep them.  Be forward thinking and intentional.  When you say to God, I will, I think you’ll find that a great sense of commitment will set in, and you will become more engaged with our Heavenly Father than ever before.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I love You so much, but sometimes my actions do not always show that to You.  I pray that You will help me to be more committed and mindful in my prayer life, so that I am always maturing and growing closer to You.  Instead of thinking about what I can do, help me to proclaim what I will do.  Amen.

Pretending To Be Sincere

“So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it.” (Ezekiel 33:31-32)

In just a few weeks (October 31) we will recognize the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s attempt to reform the Catholic Church by posting his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. (Their equivalent of Facebook!) His intent was to open a dialogue to return the Christian faith to its origins, and through that process, he changed the course of history.

One of the results of the Reformation is that greater emphasis was placed on the public reading of Scripture and proclamation of the gospel message through preaching. Luther and the other Reformers believed that God HAD spoken to us through Scripture and WAS STILL speaking to us through the proclaimed word.

This belief even had an impact on how church sanctuaries were arranged. You may have visited a liturgical service before and noticed that many times their sanctuaries are arranged with the altar holding the communion elements front and center and the minister preaches from a podium off to one side. In Protestant churches, the speaker is brought to the center, as well, because we believe that the preaching of the word is just as important as the sacrament of communion.

However, not everyone still holds such a high view of the preached word. For some, they didn’t even want to come to church in the first place, much less sit and listen to someone talk for 30+ minutes. They are only there out of obligation. For others, the sermon is something that has to be endured to enjoy the other benefits of church life (communal worship, prayer, fellowship, etc.). Sometimes we are just get tired, distracted or feel that the message doesn’t really apply to us. All of these things can prevent us from hearing what God is trying to say to us as individuals and as a community of believers.

But a far greater danger is when you hear the message, understand what God is asking of you, and you refuse to obey. Maybe you are too afraid, stubborn, rebellious or just too lazy to get on board with what God is trying to do, but the only person you are hurting is yourself. You are literally rejecting the blessings that God has in store for you that can only be unlocked by obedience.

It’s time to quit coming to church, sitting in the same spot, going through the same motions and pretending to be sincere. Put a smile on your face…your sins are forgiven! Sing (actually open your mouth, and sing along in corporate praise)…you were created to worship! Pay your tithe and offering…God triple-dog dares you to try to out-give him! Take notes during the sermon and dig deeper into Scripture…God is speaking to you. Love others, even when they aren’t worthy…because God first loved you!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for being patient with us when we are just going through the motions, pretending to be sincere. Create in us the desire to be holy, and dissatisfaction with an ineffective status quo. Help us to see others as you see them, and love them as you do. We want to be both Hearers AND Doers! In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Search and Rescue

John 3:16-17- For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

 

Aren’t you grateful for God’s goodness and mercy? His forgiving nature? His unconditional love?

I don’t know where I’d be without it! He is gracious to me in the moments I deserve it least of all. When I stumble, He gently picks me up. When I stop moving because I fear the unknown, He takes my hand and walks along beside me. He knows just what I need when I need it, and never does anything to hurt me. Even His rebukes are soft and kind. There’s no better friend, deeper love, or genuine forgiveness in all the world; we need to spread that around!

So many areas in life are readily available to reveal to us our shortcomings and failures.There are plenty of people around that will somehow remind us of how we don’t measure up to their expectations. We’ll discover things about ourselves that we don’t care for on the regular. Am I right?

See… we’re all the same in that aspect.  We need encouragement. Understanding. Patience. Love. Relationship. Kindness. Purpose. As growing Christians, we have to be careful that we don’t focus on the “do’s and don’t’s” when communicating with the world. They need to hear about “Who and what’s.” –  Who loves them immensely, and what He did/does to prove that each day.

I discovered a few years back how quick I was to jump on a bandwagon when it came to “standing for truth.” Now, don’t get me wrong- I still VERY much believe in doing that. However, I remember hearing a pastor say this once, and it struck a chord with me, “When you want to say something, you probably shouldn’t; when you don’t want to, you probably should.”

Our flesh likes to jump on in there and put someone in their place when they’re doing something we have no problem with. There’s a sense of self-righteousness that kicks in and we can wrongfully justify that by telling ourselves we’re “witnessing.” But, go back and read the two verses at the top of this page… God so loved the world that He gave what was most precious and perfect to Him. And He did that, NOT to condemn the world… (Condemn- express complete disapproval, typically in public; censure; sentence to a particular punishment, etc.) but that the world might be saved through Him.

We all know there are consequences to sin. There is punishment. But, there is hope! There is salvation! That should be our focus, shouldn’t it? Of course! That’s the focus of the very One Who came with the power to accomplish such redemption! (Matthew 18:12- For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.)

If we could imagine but for a moment, a traveler lost in the wilderness- He took a wrong turn, made a couple careless decisions, ended up on a trail never intended to be walked. He’s scared. He’s cold. He’s hungry. He’s alone. He’s angry with himself. “What if’s,” “how come’s,” and “if only’s” torment his mind. For days he battles harsh temperatures and uncomfortable scenarios. He cries out for help. Screams in agony at the thought of never finding his way to safety and comfort.

Then, all of a sudden, out in the distance he hears a faint sound. He stands motionless and strains to listen again. There it is, a little closer. He realizes it’s a group of voices calling out to him. Someone has come to lead him out of this mess! He yells, “Here I am! Over here!” and within minutes he is surrounded by those sent to find him.

What do you think he’s needing right now? Does he need to be reminded of how foolish it was to wander off on his own? Should he be scolded? Belittled? Left alone? Absolutely not. He should be welcomed. Hugged. Provided warmth, consideration, empathy, and assistance. Most likely, he’s learned his lesson and is just grateful someone was sent at the right time to lead him out of the mess he got himself into.

The “world” is the same. They’re lost. Whether they fully know that yet or not, they know something is off. When we, “the search and rescue team,” if you will is sent to them, we need to offer them the resources that will help them and heal them. God loves them. He doesn’t want to condemn them. He wants to save them.

We’re here to tell them that.

 

Prayer: Lord, thank You for saving me! Thank You for loving me! Give me patience and compassion for all those surrounding me. Help me shine the light of Your love and salvation each day that I live. May everyone I encounter sense Your presence in my life and come to know You. Give me boldness, courage, and reminders to speak of the hope only You can give. In Your name, amen.

 

“The Show Must Go On”

(Revelation 14: 12-13, NLT) 12 This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.  13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”

My family and I have had a rough week.  It’s just been very stressful, in many ways, and to be perfectly frank…we have been under attack, spiritually speaking.  How many of you know that spiritual attacks most definitely manifest in the flesh?  These attacks can affect our relationships, our finances, our jobs, and even our health.  It’s crazy how that happens!  But thank the Lord we have wisdom and truth in His word and by His Holy Spirit to help us realize what’s really going on!

Being a part of a full-time ministry family, our every waking hour can feel as if we are just absolutely consumed with church stuff.  Fundraisers, events, lessons, music, counseling, outreach, etc.  It’s a busy life for sure…and we do work very hard…because we love it…and because that’s who we are and what God has drawn us to do with our lives.  It comes from a pure, devoted, and loving place in our hearts.  It really and truly does.  But…sometimes we get tired, and truthfully…a little discouraged.  This week has been sort of like that…and we’ve been drained.  You see, we have given our lives, our dreams, our plans, our everything over to God…full, complete surrender…and while it is fulfilling and rewarding in its own way, it is also sometimes wearisome. 

However, all throughout this week, I keep going back to this passage from Galatians 6 (verse 9) which says, So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Truly, now is not the time to grow weary.  The world needs us more than ever.  People need our love, our compassion, and the truth of God’s word to sustain them through all of the chaos that surrounds us all.  The world is shrouded in a lot of darkness right now, and we have to be the light.  We simply must.  And we cannot pierce through this lingering cloud of suffering and turmoil if we are dim and weary. 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to tucker out before my time is up on this earth.  I want my good deeds, the things that I’ve done because of my love for Christ and others, to follow me to the end…so that I am able to look in the face of Jesus and be proud of who I was and what I did with my time. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when I grow tired, help me to recall the reasons why I do the things that I do.  Give me strength for the days that are heavy and grim, and give me peace for the times when I feel confused and lost.  I want to love and serve You all of my days, so that when I come to my end and I must face You, I can be confident that my days were time well spent.  May it all be for Your glory and honor.  Amen

“Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”

(1 Corinthians 12: 4-7, NLT)  4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.  7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

There’s something you need to know:  God does not need your help.  He doesn’t need my help either — or anyone else’s for that matter!  At some point, over the thousands of years since God created the entire universe, we have adopted this delusion that He somehow needs us…but that’s just not the case.  God didn’t create Adam and Eve because He needed some assistance.  He created them because He wanted to — because He wanted us.  Our God desired communion and dialogue — friendship and interaction.  We are here simply because of His love.  So don’t be mistaken.  Yes, we all have a job to do.  We’ve been created individually, with a specific directive and purpose in mind, but that purpose is to help one another…not God!  He made you exactly the way that you are, and no…there is not one other person like you, nor will there ever be…but if you choose not to serve your purpose, God will move on to someone who is willing to serve His body.  We are each a small, yet essential, part of a grand and complex system that is meant to work seamlessly as one to achieve a higher purpose.  In order to accomplish this mission, we must work together as one body, one mind, and one spirit.  So no, I’m sorry but it’s true, God doesn’t need you.  But I do.  And you need me too. 

(1 Corinthians 12: 18-21, NLT) 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

It’s like when someone is having an awkward or clumsy day and says, “I’m all thumbs today!”  Well, that’s because a person with only thumbs would be awfully awkward and impaired!  The same goes for the body of Christ.  We can’t all be the same and do the same things.  We were created diverse because we were meant to complement one another, each of us serving a specific function, supporting the greater good of all.  We don’t need a body that is made up of only teachers, or only exhorters, only helpers, or only leaders.  We need a body that is a mixed bag of every good thing that God has put into His children…because we have a job to do, and not one can do it alone. 

So if you don’t know your purpose, if you have never discovered the gift that God has placed within you that will enable you to fulfill your duty to not only God, but also your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I implore you today…seek it out!  Look to God’s word, and reach out to Him in prayer, for therein lies the key that will unlock your desire for, and the revelation of, God’s momentous plan for you.  Don’t miss out on your purpose because you are too busy competing with another thumb…when all along you are really a big toe and needed desperately down on the foot!  Everyone knows how special big toes are…we’d fall all over the place without them!  You’re important, no doubt, but you’ll never know just how significant you are if you’re in the wrong place doing the wrong thing all the time!  All I’m saying, and what God’s word tells us, is that you have to get wise and get to work.  We need you!  So stop piddling around!  We have work to do!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for Your plan for my life.  Help me to stay true to who I am…to who You have created me to be…in all that I do.  I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that I am an integral part of Your body.  I accept myself as You have made me…whether I’m a thumb or a big toe, a brain or a heart…and I will always seek to give the best of myself to further Your kingdom and fulfill Your calling.  I love and trust You, Lord, and I surrender myself to You…fully.  Amen.

He Did It On Purpose?

Jeremiah 1:5- “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

 

God makes no accidents. No mistakes. No mess-ups. No oopsy-daisies.

So, that means… God made you… and me… on purpose???

That’s exactly right.

Not too long ago I decided to venture into the painting realm. I had never done it in my life, and in every other artistic avenue I had zero skill, but still… I wanted to paint, by golly! So I did. After a few endeavors I actually began creating things people wanted to hang on their walls! But, they didn’t start that way. I made several errors several times, but take some more paint, and voila! Those flaws can be covered up, and there set before you, is a “blank” canvas yet again.

See, when the painting didn’t go quite like I had envisioned, I racked my brain for a new idea. After wrestling around with different images and brushes and colors, most times I was able to salvage the canvas by creating something I liked enough to keep. But, there were times it didn’t quite work that way.

Thankfully, God doesn’t wait until after we are born to decide whether or not we are worth keeping. He doesn’t wait for us to make it through our childhood and teen years to see if we have qualities that could potentially be useful. No! He had a vision for us which is WHY He formed us.

Our value doesn’t decrease in His eyes. If we make bad decisions, He can indeed take another “splash of color” and cover up that flaw, but He never throws us away. He doesn’t have to toss around different plans and ideas to try and find a way to make us “pretty enough” to keep. He determined how priceless we were from the beginning. That, like our purpose for existence, will never change.

Isn’t that wonderful???

That makes me so happy! When I feel like I just don’t have what it takes to accomplish what’s in my heart, or if I try something that doesn’t quite end up the way I originally planned, I can still rest assured that He loves me! He values me. He cherishes me. He likes me enough to keep me!

That’s true of you, too. You were designed for a specific purpose. Your qualities, your abilities, and your personality were tethered together specifically for a task God Himself thought you were perfect for! You weren’t given a purpose… You were created for one!

The thing about purpose is, it’s not just limited to one thing. There may be one area where He plans to use you most, but your very existence serves several purposes in itself. Don’t get discouraged with the everyday routine of life, or the simple things we tend to take for granted. Every single day of your life is filled with God-given opportunities to make this world a better place in some way. Make someone smile, give someone hope, meet someone’s need. The ways are endless. How will you fulfil your purpose today?

Prayer: Lord, thank You for creating me! When I don’t see my value, You remind me in Your Word how important and precious I am to You. Help me follow Your voice each day, fulfilling the purposes You created me for. I love You, Lord. In Your name, amen.

“Jesus, You’re My Motivation”

(Psalm 11: 4-7)

4 But the Lord is in his holy Temple;

    the Lord still rules from heaven.

He watches everyone closely,

    examining every person on earth.

5 The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked.

    He hates those who love violence.

6 He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked,

    punishing them with scorching winds.

7 For the righteous Lord loves justice.

    The virtuous will see his face.

We all have our own motivations for doing the right thing.  Whether it’s a desire to see God one day, a fear of His wrath, or even a longing to see someone again who has gone before us, there is always that one big reason that we continue on in our pursuit of righteousness and our commitment to virtue. 

When my grandmother passed away, I was given a folder full of things she had written.  Her son, my father, had passed away suddenly at the age of 22, and much of her writings centered around her never-ending grief over his death, as well as her profound determination to be with him again in Heaven with Christ.  She was fully committed and motivated to her pursuit of Heaven, and I know she is there with my father now…rejoicing in the presence of God and many other loved ones.

When I was a little girl, having grown up in a pentecostal church environment, I had a hefty fear of God’s wrath.  I had heard my fair share of sermons on this very topic, and I went to bed every night begging the Lord for His forgiveness.  I itemized my sins from the day and implored to God, “If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.”  I didn’t want any blazing coals or burning sulfur raining down on my head!  No sir!  Give me Jesus every time! 

No matter where you fall on this spectrum of motivation, remember that God knows your heart.  He sees to the very deepest depths of it, and He knows you.  He created you just as you are, and He is using every experience of your life to mold you and to lead you closer to Him.

These days, I am more like my grandmother was.  I have moved past my fear of fiery rain.  I know I am not definably wicked, though I do (as all of us do) have wicked tendencies.  I know I am not in danger of God’s wrath at all times.  I am more motivated by my desire to be reunited with my loved ones, and by my desire to experience Heaven and see the face of God once and for all.  I truly want those things more than anything!  So I am not going to let stupidity, ignorance, and folly keep me from them.  I am going to walk in His ways.  It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. 

So what’s your motivation?  If you don’t know, I encourage you today to spend some in reflection to find out.  That way, when you are faced with temptations and tests that life will undoubtedly bring, you will have the strength to turn away.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, give me the strength to make virtue and righteousness the most important part of who I am.  This life is hard, and full of temptations and trials, but Your word gives me hope of a reward in Heaven for my commitment to You.  Help me to remember that at all times!  Amen.