true followers of God
When I was a child, I sought to be loved by my father, I did everything I could to please him. Driven by my deep desire to earn his love, I worked very hard at it only to learn later that he expected so much more out of others than himself. By the time I entered my teens struggled with whether or not I would ever win his affection. His authority was as clear as the military man he was, requiring strict discipline to his rules and the inevitable consequences (often to harsh) routinely applied for not living up to his standard. I came to believe that love must be earned and that love is conditional.
Then God happened. I began a confusing journey after experiencing His unconditional love apart from performance. It took some time in getting to know God and to believe that He had the best intentions for my life through His Son, Jesus, the Christ. His love brought me into a freedom I had not known before and it eventually replaced the strongholds of false beliefs that I had about love. God’s love is unconditional and can never be earned, it is freely given.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NASB)
No one on this earth can offer us such unconditional love except God. No one. It is a gift freely given when we become His child.
God’s love frees us up to become all we’ve been called to become in this world and prepares us for an eternal life in His presence. Seek God with all your heart and you will find true love, which in turn will make your life better in loving others.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB)
Forty, the number, is commonly used in reference to a milestone, achievement or a set of things like years of a lifetime, even degrees of temperature. Today, forty is referring to a number of times.
Twenty-nine years ago when my life was full of challenges as a wife, mother of small children and a demanding career I found myself at a fork-in-the-road that seemed to give me a new perspective on time and purpose of living. A challenging childhood can make you aware of things that others may not even consider and not wanting to miss God’s will for my life through the busyness of life caught my attention.
I began asking Him for insight, specifically what I was placed on this earth to accomplish. Growing up, my mother spoke frequently to me about how God had a plan for my life which naturally created curiosity around how His plan would play out in my life. And so I began to ask Him specifically.
“Study My Word,” was always His response. This instruction seemed like a small thing to apply myself to and not very significant when it comes to impacting the lives of others. After all, I was great at taking my bible to church and following along with the teaching, even taking notes most of the time. But, God’s voice kept reminding my heart that His instruction was to study His Word. Eventually, I surrendered to His command and made a commitment to make studying His Word on a regular basis. I promised God that I would read through the Bible one time, believing that would result in a great achievement and spiritual growth. How little did I know!
One time through the Bible turned into six years of on-again, off-again attempts before finally accomplishing the promise that I had made to God. Obviously, it took me a minute to make studying God’s word a priority. I had to learn how to overcome the distractions of daily life by creating space in my life for the more important things before I found a way to maintain the pursuit of keeping God first in this world we live in everyday.
The first time through God’s word exposed how little I actually knew about God and His heart for me. It also exposed how little I knew about the teachings of Jesus and His will for my life. How in the world could I fulfill God’s call on my life without knowing what He had to say about the valleys and mountaintops that we will encounter on our way towards fulfilling His call on our lives? Most of all, how in this world would we know how deeply we are treasured and esteemed in His heart, to the point of sending His Son, Jesus to rescue us from all the issues of life by learning to lean on Him when life takes a turn toward hopelessness and sorrow. God knew that I needed to be taught how to become a warrior, how to run my life race as a winner.
My first time through the bible can be compared to reading a cliff note version of a book, it was too much to take in with one reading, (which of course God knew this way before I did). He worked through my circumstances and my desire to “grow in His grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2Peter 3:18) while serving/volunteering in leadership roles in the local church, eventually teaching and mentoring women.
The number forty is a significant reference in the Bible, often used as a season of preparation or duration of service to God for the benefit of others, even those who don’t acknowledge Him.
“…For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)
Today marks the completion of my 40th read through the Bible representing 29 years of my life. It is true that “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) I have been transformed in the process. By God’s grace I can honestly say “…that He who began a good work in you (me) will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
Knowing God through His Word was a crucial element in fulfilling His call (or assignment) on my life and will continue to be.
What has God been whispering to your heart lately? If you heed His voice by making it a priority in your life (no matter how long it takes to accomplish it), you will fulfill God’s call and your obedience will not only transform you but will also change your world.
Do you live with an awareness that your days are numbered on this earth and that it is unwise to believe that you will always have another day to get on with the business of living with purpose?
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
This was a prayer of Moses who was encouraging us to make the most of our lives since our days on earth are so few in the light of eternity which is God’s perspective.
No one but God knows the number of days that have been appointed to each of us therefore, we must view life through the lens of His wisdom, purpose and fulfillment of His call on our lives.
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)
Jesus, while on earth embraced this teaching as well. He lived a life focused on fulfilling the call of God on his life to the point of being able to say at the end;
“I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do.” (John 17:4)
What have you been given to do while on this earth and are you focused on accomplishing it? Living and walking in this truth is the mark of wisdom. May this year be a year of new beginnings for better living in all arenas of your life.
Lord, teach us to number our days!
Image: The Heavenly Pastures, EU Scoop
God & Holiday
Have you ever wondered about how the holidays have evolved into such a frenzied and hectic time of year? Well, celebrating Christmas did not start out this way, it began as a proclamation of peace and wonder to the whole world.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
When it came time for the fulfillment of this prophecy the people who received the announcement were so moved with awe and wonderment that they stopped what they were doing to go and see this newly born Savior.
“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that happened, which the Lord has made known to us. And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:15-16)
Celebrating Christmas began with receiving a gift from God in the birth of His Son, Jesus and it caused the people to pause from their daily routines to take time to worship and praise God for sending a Savior into a needy and lost world.
This holiday let’s join in with the multitude of the heavenly hosts who praised God by saying;
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
Take time to celebrate the Gift of Jesus more than the gifts we expect to receive this Christmas!
“He is the radiance of the glory of God…” (Hebrews 1:3)
So often we think of success in terms of attaining wealth, position and honors but what does it take to build a lifestyle of success that has a lasting effect on those around us and possibly the world? It is in how we choose to go about achieving the outcomes we desire.
King Solomon, arguably the most wise, successful and wealthiest man on earth, understood the importance of seeking wisdom from God in how to live a successful life.
“Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiates 12:13)
Solomon understood that every deed of man would come under the scrutiny of God’s judgement, not that we should live in fear but that we would be encouraged to embrace the wisdom of God’s definition of successful living. That by choosing His ways over our ways and living our lives in fellowship with Him rather than away from Him, we would live a life of lasting honor and not one resulting in judgement.
“He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.” (Proverbs 2:7)
If we walk with God He promises to be a shield of sound wisdom in our lives that will protect us from straying from His best for our lives.
“Guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of His saints.” (Proverbs 2:8)
Your life may not appear all that successful at the moment but if you choose to trust in God, to live according to His ways, your life will be honored and the people around you will be blessed in ways that wealth and position can not, even though these may be a byproduct. God’s way of living is the most successful decision you will ever make. His way of living is purposeful and fulfilling, a faith journey of discovery that teaches us true success. Our greatest accomplishment and goal is to live a life with no secrets and no evil deeds that will bring us into judgement at the end. (Ecclesiates 12:14) This is successful living.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
Image: Decoration, HD Images
There is power in a name based on what it represents. The name of God is no exception.
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1)
God declares that His name is established forever and so powerful that whatever we perceive to be the greatest enemy in our lives is weak before Him and will have to acknowledge the incomparable name of God.
His name is representative of all creation set in place by Him and yet He cares about and for all mankind.
“…what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)
Mankind is a picture of God’s loving-kindness and grace. He has crowned us with glory and honor and given us dominion over the works of His hands, putting all things under our feet. (Psalm 8:5,6)
How then are we to live in such a way that honors this magnificent gift of dominion to rule and manage all that God has entrusted to us? We are to glorify His Name with the understanding that we have only what has been given to us to manage here on earth. To do this properly we must agree with God and His purpose for creating mankind. We must believe by faith in the name of His Son Jesus, the Savior of the world.
“Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
Magnifying the name of God happens when we fulfill His purpose for our lives. Are you living in the light and power of Your namesake? If not, choose today to live and walk in a manner worthy of your calling. (Ephesians 4:1)
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
Prisoner of Hope
The word prisoner carries a negative connotation and yet in the context of faith in God it is a positive attribute that points to a lifestyle of built on hope. Whereas a prisoner loses his/her freedom to choose and are held bound to obey a higher authority, God followers are invited into a lifestyle of eternal hope.
Hope anchored in God is described as a stronghold; a well-fortified place, a fortress and a refuge from anyone whose aim is to keep us from fulfilling our destiny according to God’s will. It is also a place of restoration in the aftermath of great lost.
“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.” (Zechariah 9:12)
In seasons of hardship its easy to forget that our position of strength is to remain in God’s stronghold of protection and His promise of restoration to all those who have placed their hope in Jesus, His Son. Jesus is the fulfillment of our hope.
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him (Jesus).” (2Corinthians 1:20)
Who is your stronghold and in whom have you placed your hope? In God we have the full assurance of hope until the end, the fulfillment of His promises. (Hebrews 6:11)
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)
He is Hope Eternal
The ability to hear causes us to take notice, to observe or pay attention to what we are being informed of. Hearing is listening.
Are you a good listener? Whether you believe you are a good listener or not, God has plenty to say about the art of being a good listener. The word is used so often in the Bible God must have known we would be challenged in this area.
“Listen diligently to Me…incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live…” (Isaiah 55:2,3)
The livelihood of our souls depends on how great a listener we are to not only what God speaks into our lives but how well we apply it. God tells us that it was because the Israelites refused to hear His words they turned back to the sin of their forefathers.
“They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear My words.” (Jeremiah 11:10)
Listening and believing go hand in hand with God. He promises to bless those who believe what He speaks.
“And blessed is she who believes that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)
Listening and obedience go hand in hand with God who entrusted an entire nation under the leadership of Moses to bring them into the promised land.
“…He is faithful in all My house.” (Numbers 12:7)
Hearing God can’t be done well in a noisy and hectic lifestyle. We must learn to guard our hearts for the quiet times that are needed to hear and grow in our knowledge of God and the daily fellowship and blessings that knowing Him offer.
“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.” (Psalm 85:8)
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)