“God has a plan for you. It takes being strong, courageous and tough. You have to believe in God’s vision for you even though you don’t understand it, don’t believe it and certainly cannot grasp what it involves. It takes a strong person to hang on tight and go where you cannot see or understand.”
Category Archives: Random Devotions
“God is good…all the time.
All the time…God is good.”
Yesterday many of my friends and colleagues became aware that something was not quite right in my life or ministry. They were not told of the circumstances that resulted in my situation but were asked to vote on my status. I will not describe those here either because this is not about the circumstances; this is about the promise that God has given all of His children “
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
This world is not God’s perfect creation and has not been since humanity first sinned against God but we all have to live in it. Most, but probably all, of us have contributed to that plethora of sin that abounds in the world today that we see regularly on the news or hear debated in our churches and government. We are also aware of the sins that go on day after day in private lives that people commit willingly or unknowingly. It is all sin that distances us away from our loving God for there is no degrees of sin in God’s eyes; sin is sin.
When we study the life of Jesus we find over and over again where he would reach out to the sinner, the outcast, the broken, the sick and would forgive, restore, mend and heal. We as his brothers and sisters can not be expected to do less. In fact, Jesus told us that we would do even more.
John 14:12 (NLT)
Yesterday many of my friends and colleagues became aware that something was not quite right in my life or ministry. Some who saw me turned away and kept walking but many were Jesus for me. Many reached out to this broken outcast and showed compassion, gave love and encouragement and one even prayed with me…imagine that, a pastor openly, in public praying a deep prayer of compassion, healing and restoration with/for a broken outcast.
Over the last few months God has placed individuals in my life that have reached out, have demonstrated the love and compassion of Jesus and have provided what I needed most: hope. He has done this continually, over and over again, to show me first of all that He is with me in this storm but has also shown me that He has a plan.
My life is taking a new direction that I never expected, right now it is on a path that could take me full circle in my spiritual journey. I don’t know where I’m going or where I will land but I do know that He is with me and I’m more and more certain that God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.” The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.” -author unknown
Which God gave me to hold.
He said, ‘Put all your sorrows in the black box,
And all your joys in the gold.’
But though the gold became heavier each day,
The black was as light as before.
With curiosity, I opened the black,
I wanted to find out why,
And I saw, in the base of the box, a hole,
Which my sorrows had fallen out by.
I showed the hole to God, and mused,
‘I wonder where my sorrows could be!’
He smiled a gentle smile and said,
‘My child, they’re all here with me..’
I asked God, why He gave me the boxes,
Why the gold and the black with the hole?
‘My child, the gold is for you to count your blessings,
The black is for you to let go’
There are times in my life when I wonder if God is really paying attention to all that is going on in my life. Then there are other days when I am fully aware that he cares about even the most minute item.
Today was one of those days when God let me know that He is very much with me and is willing to help me in some of the smallest ways. On Saturday I packed my personal belongings out of three storage rooms into a 26 foot U-haul truck. The weather on Saturday was wonderful and we were done in record time. Today however the weather forecast was for strong winds to begin around 9:00 and severe storms around 1:00. As I drove up to the parking lot where we had stashed the truck on Saturday night I said a simple prayer: Lord, please hold off the wind and storms until we get the truck unloaded. The last item came off the truck at 12:30 and as I stepped outside to return the truck I felt the first strong breeze hit me…it felt good since I had worked up a sweat emptying the truck. Then a moment or two later my daughter stepped outside to join me for the ride and it started raining. I couldn’t help but laugh at how kind God had been but I was a little concerned about driving the truck in a heavy rain so I asked once again: please Lord, hold off the rain until I get the truck turned in. The rain stopped fairly soon and it was a nice easy ride. When I stepped out of the U-haul office it started to rain once again. I still had a distance to drive but I can happily say that I did not see lighting or hear thunder until just a moment ago. So one more time: Lord, let my daughter get to and from dance class safely and my friend make it safely home. Then Lord, let it rain on the parched land as it is needed.
I serve an awesome God who cares not only about our big things in life but is even willing to control the weather to make a tough situation a lot easier.
You see it at sporting events. It’s on the back of cars. Even been on faces. One word followed by three numbers and a colon. John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)
God loves the world. God loves His creation. God loves YOU!!! Whether you like it or not, believe it or not, GOD LOVES YOU and nothing you do can change that. Of course that doesn’t mean He doesn’t get upset with you because of the things you do it just means simply that God loves you.
This love isn’t what we are used to or in many cases have experienced. Every human being has a capacity to love but every human being has a different perspective on love. Some experience love through physical contact. For others love is emotional support. Love for many is an elusive and changing concept that everyone talks about but few people if any every really understand. Love can be a wonderful feeling or a very painful one. The problem is that human beings believe love is about how we feel about something/one and is usually driven about how something/one makes us feel. Human beings are prone to fall in love with anything/one that makes them happy. But that isn’t really love. It’s not the love that God has for His creation.
God’s love goes beyond our human capacity to understand this thing we call love. God’s love is pure and makes no demands. God’s love is a commitment that will never be broken. God’s love takes every insult we hurl at Him and sends it back to us as more love. God’s love embraces us at all times, carries us through the tough times, rejoices with us through the great times, mourns with us through the time of loss, gives us strength when we are weak and stands with us when we are strong. God’s love is never ending.
God’s love for us is so intense that willingly and lovingly He sent His Son to live among us to show us the way. God’s love is so intense that He even sacrificed His Son so that we would have a way back to Him when we strayed. God’s love is so intense that He wants us to have the very best that only Heaven can provide. God doesn’t want us to settle for what the world has to offer, for anything second rate.
So the next time you see it remember it’s for you. John 3:16 – God loved you so much that He sent His only Son that you, yes you, might have eternal life.
Shhhhhhh! Be still…shhhhh. Listen. Do you hear it? Can you hear it? Shhhhh! Listen. There did you hear it?
I’m not talking to a rowdy class of elementary school students. This is addressed to many adults that come to me frazzled, fried and lost. They have lost their way in this world and are trying to find something meaningful. They want more than the house, car, six figure salary, success and fame. They want love.
No I’m not a matchmaker and I’m not talking about that kind of love. I’m not talking about the kind of love that so many people spend billions of dollars looking for in all the wrong places. I’m talking about the love that we were created for; the love that willingly sacrifices itself to give. I’m talking about the love that God has for his children.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:16, 17 (NLT)
This is a love that we do not deserve yet it is a love that is freely given. This is a love that is never taken away based on our actions. This is a love that walks with us every step we take; a love that rejoices when we are happy and weeps when we are sad; a love that holds us tight in despair and lets us fly free in joy.
This love is always there but we so often fail to recognize it. We fail because we rush through our earthly days not taking time for heavenly things. We fail because we do not slow down and take time to just be. Our lives are filled with noise and busyness and we do not know how to just be. The world around us calls us lazy when we just be.
I challenge you to take just 10 minutes today and just be; no phone, no computer, no television, no radio, no iPod, just you, silence and God.
Listen, do you hear it? A still small voice below the noise with only one thing it is trying to say: “I love you”.
Life is sort of like water in a stream. There are times that life just slowly moves through a set boundary almost imperceptible to the naked eye. Everything around it reflects an image onto it, never exact but recognizable. Somethings may fall into it and are carried with it for a time until it is filtered out, others sink in deep and are left behind. This is normal in many of our adult lives. We take on a career and go through life crunching out the days. Various influences of the day touch our hearts and souls and some of them make lasting changes in us and others pass through us for a season and then are gone.
There are other times in our lives that life rushes past. We are pounded by this idea or that failure. We may go through a tumultuous event such as the death of a family member, loss of job, or life threatening illness. These are the rocky times of life that come and go often without warning and send our lives this way and that. Our lives are like the stream that has come to a narrow spot or hit a drop in altitude or rocky path. We move quickly not able to take the time to choose our path, slammed up against this side and then the other, flowing quickly, falling, tumbling, cascading, thinking we will never again have calm and yet deeply longing for it.
Life keeps moving at it’s own pace, sometimes fast, sometimes slow but always moving. We never know for sure what may come around the next bend or over the next drop. We can’t fully control the outside influences that will touch our lives but we can control how deeply they affect us. We can brace ourselves for impact; always on alert for any danger. We can relax and take life as it comes; roll with the punches. We can do both, keep a watchful eye but not always expect the worst. How we flow through life is partially our personality and partially what we have experienced in living.
The main thing that I always try to focus on, no matter what is happening in my life is a promise that I am not alone. Jesus says he will be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20) and that God will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6). With that in my mind, heart and soul I go on living as I travel the riverbed of this world until I reach that final destination.
In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of
Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the
public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire
and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who
had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program
were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for
the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary
and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple
went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.
Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as
they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every
word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of
cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square,
cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was
available in the city.
Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid
strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a
worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia,
were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we
had brought from the United States.
The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see
if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little
Misha sat. He looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project.
As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but
two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the
lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of
him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat
the story very seriously.
For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he
related the happenings accurately…until he came to the part where Mary put
the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his
own ending to the story as he said, “And when Maria laid the baby in the
manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him
I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then
Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I
didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay
with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for
a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.
So I asked Jesus, “If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?”
And Jesus told me, “If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody
ever gave me.”
“So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I
could stay with him…for always.”
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that
splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head
dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed.
The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him,
someone who would stay with him…FOR ALWAYS.
I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life, but who you have in
your life that counts.
— Author Unknown