No Worries!

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He’s going to be up all night anyway. –Mary C. Crowley

The following is from Inspired Faith: 365 Days a Year, and is entitled: “No Worries.” Enjoy!

“It is believed by some that worrying is a sin. Do you believe that? How could such a natural and common emotion be a violation of God’s will?

Without attempting to answer that question, all of us can argue that worry is rarely, if ever, helpful—and it is usually detrimental to our quality of life. Worry is bad for our physical health, bad for our mental health, and it doesn’t change anything.

Fundamentally, worry is a lack of faith in God and His protection and provision in our lives. That’s why some call it a sin. It is true that He doesn’t promise to make everything turn out the way we want it to. But He does promise to meet all our needs and to never forsake us.

Will you believe Him? If so, why worry? With God beside us, there are no real worries.”

God, You cloth and feed all the birds outside our windows, so we know You will care for us. Amen.

Confirmation Comes

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10-11 NIV

CONFIRM

Confirm: To establish the truth or correctness of something. Verify. Validate. Removal of doubt.

When the apostle tells us to make every effort to confirm our calling and election, what he seems to be saying in my humble opinion, is that we have some work to do.

Where there is doubt, we need to find faith.
Where there is confusion, we need to find clarity.
Where there is a seeming lack of evidence, we need to realize the value inherent in our acts of mercy, help, and sacrificial love given to others.

We need to reestablish and make public our decision to follow Jesus. We need to declare it. We need to stand by it. We need to make sure that we are not hiding our faith away in a “safe” place, so as not to be demeaned, mocked, or singled out as one of those crazy folks that actually believes God is real and working in their lives and this world—even in a time of pandemic.

Let them think we’re crazy. Let them mock us. Let them think our faith in God is ridiculous. We don’t have to prove anything to them, except our love (John 13:35)—when they mock, when they laugh, and most importantly when they are struggling to find something solid to rest their weary fears upon. Then, folks, let your Light shine!!!!!!!!! Confirm that you belong to Jesus!!!!!!

Are you someone who struggles with believing you are right with God?  How do you confirm to others and yourself that you are a disciple of Jesus?  Explain.

Shipwrecked or Saved?

In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. Psalm 86:7 NIV

It is the trial of our faith that is precious. If we go through the trial, there is so much wealth laid up in our heavenly bank account to draw upon when the next test comes. –Oswald Chambers

The following is a devotional from the little book Inspired Faith: 365 Days a Year and is titled, “Shipwrecked.” Enjoy!

“Paul knew something about storms. A man of the world and accustomed to international travel before and after his conversion, he experienced plenty of rough waters and on one occasion was shipwrecked (Acts 27:39-44).

On that occasion, Paul and his shipmate had a very specific message from God: Obey and you will be saved. Every single person made it to shore alive—even though the ship itself was torn apart.

When the waters we are sailing on grow turbulent, it’s easy to get our eyes off what matters and try some desperate moves. In financial storms, some have stolen and swindled; in relationship storms, some have been unfaithful; in storms at work, some have falsified reports and cheated on margins. The only sure way to get safely to shore is through simple obedience to God’s will for our lives.”

Lord, give us even greater resolve to do what is right when storms rage around us. Amen.

What is your way to safety during this viral season of life?  Who do you depend upon when the waters turn turbulent?

A Life Worth Living

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

The essential thing “in heaven and earth” is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction…something which has made life worth living. Friedrich Nietzsche

ABC

What good is a long obedience in the same direction to the body of Christ?

A long obedience is the best evidence we can give that we love and serve Jesus. The longer we continue with Him in love, in joy, in peace, in forbearance and tolerance; in kindness, in goodness, in faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, the more effectively we demonstrate to the world that we a Christ-followers.

When we continue in obedience to Jesus and love for His people, always going in the same direction, always falling back into step with Him should we ever misstep, we affirm that we are not fair weather friends to our Savior. We do not leap away at the first sign that our agendas might not be met. Neither do we abandon Him or prostitute ourselves to other gods simply because our God isn’t following our plan for life.

A long obedience in the same direction requires patience and a love that is more than skin deep.

A long obedience to Christ means we are willing to be crucified with Christ, willing to suffer for Him, and willing to love Him through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some day ugly may come to us. It has arrived already for many. We can be sure that if we love Christ, we will leave this world with scars. But we will never, ever give up our belief that walking with Jesus created for us a life worth living!

How does a long obedience look to you?  Who is seeing a long obedience demonstrated in your life?

Memories

I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 2 Corinthians 7:3 NIV

We were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.… 2 Corinthians 7:13b NIV

Have you ever remembered someone so vividly that it almost seemed possible to reach out and touch them? It happens in dreams sometimes. It happens in our waking moments too, but of course we know then that what we see if not really there…not able to be hugged and kissed and brought into a loving embrace. Nevertheless, we cherish moments like these, because they remind us of who we love and why we love them so fiercely.

Paul loved the people in the church at Corinth.

Paul remembered the church of Corinth fondly while away from them, because he had experienced life with them. He had introduced them to Christ. He had taught them what it was to have faith in God. He had showed them how to live in a world that was often hostile to Christians. Paul had lived and worked and nurtured this church until the time when the Holy Spirit bid him move on. When a letter arrived from them and it was signed by one of this church’s members (even though what it contained was difficult to read), Paul was moved by it, because it instantly transported back to a time when the person stood before him and a smile had passed between them. He loved the church of Corinth and he liked her, which as we all know are two very different things.

Today, we may be reminded of someone we are away from and we may miss them so much that we feel a little pain just thinking of all the good times we had together in the past. When that happens, let’s send up a prayer to our God on their behalf. Let’s ask him to bless them. Let’s thank Him that we had the chance to know them, and let’s linger a little longer on the memory of good times, even if they included painful circumstances. Tomorrow may bring us back together, but if not, we have the memory of days gone by to get us by, and the blessed hope of one day being united again. Praise God!

Are you separated from someone you love?  What is your favorite memory with others that you can no longer see?

An Exercise in Pain

This week I needed an exercise in pain to help me see where I had been prideful and help me to take steps to remedy the situation. What God asked me to do was read Matthew 18:21-35, changing all the pronouns in this passage of the Bible to my name. Ouch!  Below, are the result:

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king [God, if you will], who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, Lori, who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to God.  25 Since Lori was not able to pay, the master ordered that Lori and Bob and her sons, Rob and Matt, and all that Lori had be sold to repay the debt. [This included their home, their property, their cars, Bob’s motorcycle, his tractors, their computers, their cell phones, their savings accounts, their cash on hand, gifts they had bought or received, television sets, precious heirlooms, and even Mauser and Rosie, their animals. Everything was to be put on the auction block and sold to the highest bidder.]

26 “At this Lori fell on her knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ Lori begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on Lori, canceled the debt and let Lori go.  [Remember, she owed this guy 10K BAGS of GOLD. A sum she could never repay-ever!]

28 “But when Lori went out, Lori found one of her fellow servants who owed Lori a hundred silver coins.  Lori grabbed her and began to choke her. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ Lori demanded.

29 “Lori’s fellow servant fell to her knees and begged Lori, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But Lori refused. Instead, Lori went off and had the woman thrown into prison until she could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called Lori in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  [Remember: 10,000 BAGS of GOLD]. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger Lori’s master handed Lori over to the jailers to be tortured, until Lori should pay back all Lori owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Is there someone you need to forgive?  What else is there that is more important than you getting that job done TODAY??!

Reaching Back

I spoke to them, but they did not listen; I called to them, but they did not answer. Jeremiah 35:17c

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Have you ever had someone not respond to you when you called to them?

Perhaps it was your son, who was playing in the apple orchard and too busy to call back. Maybe it was your college-age daughter who didn’t understand how anxious parents get when their children attending school in far off places don’t check in. Maybe it was a friend who couldn’t be bothered, or a coworker who was avoiding you.

I’m not the only one who has these problems, right?

The prophet Jeremiah saw this kind of neglect of relationships going on in his day and his town, and he called his people out on it. Disaster was headed their way, and they couldn’t bother to be bothered about it. God was calling out to them, asking them to listen and follow His leadership in their lives, and they refused to reply. They didn’t listen, neither did they answer, and God was angry.

It’s annoying when you reach out to someone and get no response.

It’s dangerous when God reaches out and no one reaches back.

When has God reached out to you, only to have you ignore Him?  When have you been the victim of someone who refused to call back after you had reached out to them?

Living Peaceably

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18 NKJV

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it stands than to anything on which it is poured. Author Unknown

The following is a message from Inspired Faith: 365 Days a Year and is titled: The Promise of Peace. Enjoy!

“Jesus’ own life was anything but peaceful. He was born in a stable after Mary and Joseph’s arduous journey. His family was forced to flee to Egypt when he was an infant because a madman was murdering baby boys. His father died. He became the most celebrated teacher of His country, drawing the wrath of the religious and political establishment. Ultimately, He died on the cross.

But Jesus brought peace: between God and man, peace between estranged family members, and even peace between enemies.

Why don’t we see more evidence of it? As long as humans have the freedom to live for or against God, we will not see peace in full bloom. But the seed is planted. Sprigs and shoots can be seen in the most unlikely places. It is the promise of what is to fully be!”

God of peace, thank You for sending the Prince of Peace to bring hope and promise to the world. Amen.

Do you struggle to find peace on your journey through life?  When or where has peace been easy to find for you?

He’s a good, good father

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

Although we like to claim it for ourselves, the promise of prosperity we find in Jeremiah 29 was for the Jewish nation.

God would not forget them.
God would not always be angry with them.
God would relent, but only after a time.

The Nation of Israel had forgotten her God. They had sinned against him and chosen to go their own way. They had bought idols and kneeled down to them on expensive rugs that covered sandy floors.

God was furious at their betrayal.

Israel had not only quit listening to Him-their Rescuer and Redeemer, but they had taught their wives and children, their innocent families, to do the same. This collection of errant men deserved the worst God could bring, and He could bring it bad, but what they got was mercy.

Mercy: Unmerited favor.

What does this mean for us today?

Punishment handed down by God is better than what we’ll get at the hands of our enemies, always. We might not think so at times, but David knew it was true (2 Samuel 24:14). If we will see God as a good, good father, then we will understand that sometimes we are deserving of his correction and that if he didn’t correct us, it would mean He didn’t love us.

Today, let’s think about the Lord’s correction in a right and proper way. As good, so good for us. Let’s pray…

When has God’s correction been a good thing in your life?  What needs correcting in your life today?

Thankful and Protected

You prepare a table for me, in the presence of my enemies…my cup overflows. Psalm 23 NIV

Think about the promise God makes to his faithful ones in Psalm 23.

A safe and good place to lie down; to rest, relax, recharge and refresh.
A walk beside still waters. No tsunami or flooding anywhere in sight.
Restoration of our souls when they are worn and weary.
A path that is right, that we will know is right and that will enable us to walk alongside God every day, so that His name might not be tarnished by the actions of our frail humanity.

The Lord offers protection for us on those days when we are called to walk the valley of the shadow of death–even death. How many times were we very nearly run off a cliff, and then snatched back from the brink? How many close calls have not resulted in our destruction? How many bad plans and faulty schemes by ourselves and others have we been saved from?

God causes us to live boldly, fearing no evil; not because we are so very powerful or brave, but because our hand is firmly holding His and that means safety and protection at all times. He is with us! His presence and the knowledge of his protective might comfort us. No wolves dare approach us, for they see his rod and staff a long way off.

The oil.

The cup overflowing with His goodness.

The days, moving into eternity, each one set apart for the development of an even greater and more intimate relationship with our God—these, these are our promises from Psalm 23. Today, let’s live in them, and be thankful!

When has God saved you from the brink of the cliff?  What are you thankful for today?