” And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:42
We often think we make the biggest impact when we do big things for God. The more the sacrifice, energy, or expense, the greater the influence, right? Heaven may reveal a different story. Though the flow of good from a large venture can, should, and does yield a flood of praiseworthy results, small but significant acts have the power to do even more. For example, a meal served with a side of eye-to-eye conversation and a heaping helping of “you-are-worth-slowing-down-for” time is better than any store-bought gift. The way we talk to people different from ourselves in color speaks volumes to young eyes and a momentary example can yield a lifetime of imitation. A kindness extended can funnel hope into a heart scorched by injustice, causing a recalculation that everybody who looks like you is against them. A trickle of smiles and courtesies can cut a canyon of confidence in those prone to lack it. The God Who birthed a nation from a barren woman and her elderly husband also changes the world through little things you do everyday. Invite Him to have His way in you today; you will find Him working and using you in more ways than you realize.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Romans 12:9-11
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of the happenings in the world these days? Does it sometimes feel impossible for significant change to come? Everything seems to be impossible when you look at it in light of your own limitations. God warned you that these days would come. With so much going wrong so quickly, you may be tempted to think there is nothing you can do. Not so! You are a part of the body of Christ! God has gifted you to be part of the solution in your corner of the planet to the people within your reach who need love, a listening ear, and a willingness to gain insight into what they think and feel. In other words, love!
The enemy of your soul desires for you to bunker into self preservation, but you possess everything you need to minister to those on your watch (2 Peter 1:3). Resist the urge to make it complicated! Let His Spirit be your guide, and with a prayer always on the tip of your tongue, step out and let God use you in any way He desires. Loving others is always the next right thing to do. You will be amazed at what He can do through you in your crazy, hungry-for-hope corner of the world.
“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Are you feeling distant from God? Maybe you are struggling with what the Bible calls a besetting sin, and you are discouraged. Perhaps you are tempted to think it is too difficult to get right so you are trying to make peace with your shortcoming. You may be in a good place spiritually, but you have a goal that seems to run out of reach each time you take a step toward it. Grief or loneliness may be your struggle at this time, or a difficult relationship may be plaguing your spirit with stress. Whatever is going on, whatever the struggle, remember, know, and believe that it is always too soon to give up. God knew you would be in this place, and He has made provision for you! Strength, encouragement, perseverance, hope, and comfort are in abundant supply in His presence.
Sometimes when you come to Him, what you desire does not come immediately because He wants you to linger awhile, or step a little closer to get a better view of His love for you. Your cloud of problems tend to obscure His power and the Father wants to give you a clearer view of His Omnipotence. Step closer, My Friend, and be amazed anew. Whatever you need is available. The road to whatever you need will always lead to where He is.
“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
I used to think that to go to one’s grave without having fulfilled a longed-for dream would be a deep tragedy. I do not believe that anymore. American culture sets great store in making dreams come true, and honestly, it can be beautiful when it happens, especially if it means someone else has a better life as a result. Dreams, however, possess a little bit of authority or control that may not always be healthy or rightful. A dream is something the dreamer created and as such, is susceptible to error despite being noble. A dream is a concoction of what the dreamer deems best; it’s colors and design and location reflect the dreamers idea of what true fulfillment should look like.
What about God in that scenario? What if His plan contradicts the dreamer’s ideal? Again, the dream can be pure while being the opposite of what the dreamer’s Creator intended. What then? To reorder or surrender that dream can be a painful struggle and a slow death, but it must happen if the dreamer’s true purpose is to reach fulfillment. This is not the kind of truth that makes for joyful shouts, but does provoke, “Well done” from the throat of the Almighty. Which is more important to you?
Be encouraged, My Friend. Nothing that we lay at the Father’s feet is ever a true loss because what we gain in doing so bears an eternal weight that will outlast any earthly disappointment.
For I am the Lord, I change not….”
When you start a journey, you have a destination in mind and a plan on how to get there. Sometimes, however, unexpected detours meet you on the road and you must make adjustments. Even your detours may contain a maze of other detours that bog you down in details that frustrate you. Still, no matter how lost you get, you know that certain things never change: the sun always rises in east and sets in the west. Wherever you are in the maze, you can know where you are by looking up.
Likewise, your life may be a tangle of detours, unpleasant surprises, and unexpected delays. Look up, My Friend! God is in the same place He has always been, His love for you has not changed, and His plan for your life is still on track. God is still able to do exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). You are still more than a conqueror through Him Who loved you (Romans 8:37) and you still can do all things through Him Who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). The promises of God are still “yes” through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20)! Nothing has changed but your circumstances; the Solution never will!
The question is not about God and His faithfulness, but are you, in the midst of life’s detours, going to trust Him…still?
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
It is a rotten feeling when you fail, especially when you saw it coming, but chose to ignore it. The most natural response to personal failure is to either run away in shame or to minimize the truth of it. You may even speak brutally to your inner self and make dire predictions about your future. Add to this the voice of the enemy chiding you, and the misery can be unbearable.
Know that none of the above is the way God responds to your failure. Though you may feel unworthy of it, His love and grace are tender towards you. You may be disappointed in yourself, but God knew He would find you here and has been waiting for you with arms wide enough to hold you and your burden of guilt. Full confession is the best response. No excuses. Then, ask Him to restore you. He will show where you veered off course and empower you to win next time you pass that same spot.
Likely, you abandoned the very practices that kept you on the right path; go back to them. Only you know what those are, and if you have been gone long enough to have forgotten what they are, remembrance is only a prayer away.
Failure is not your identity, it’s only an event. Take God’s extended hand, ask His forgiveness, and get on with your life.
“Never will I leave you,never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b
Wherever you find yourself right now, God was already there before you arrived, My Friend. He was waiting there with everything you need for this season. Your circumstance may be different from any you ever faced, but God is the same. You may be lacking resources you counted on, but you still have the Source. Your heart may be grieving, stressing, bored, overwhelmed, or full of fear, but that same heart also possesses the remedy for all of those negatives in the the Person of the Holy Spirit. He offers peace for your worry, comfort for your grief, and the intimate voice of His Word for your boredom. God’s answer for your fear is His truth.
There is no need you have for which God is unprepared. He is not a God Who would send His Son all the way from Heaven for you but leave you lacking in what you need until you get there yourself. He loves you, He is more than able to see you through this season. He’s been with you in the good times, He will not walk out now. Because He said He will never leave you nor forsake you, you can trust Him as your God of all seasons, including the one you re in right now.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
We are all part of a time of intense global suffering, inconvenience, and uncertainty. Simultaneously, we live in a time brimming with opportunity to serve, give, create, connect, and invest. In whatever way you are using these opportunities, God notices. He sees you reaching out to a neighbor and checking in on family and friends. He sees you volunteering, sacrificing, and encouraging. The smiles you are bringing to sad faces, the prayers you are praying for anxious hearts to have peace-none have escaped God’s attention. The rewards, in addition to the earthly satisfaction you feel now, will meet you in heaven embedded in crowns you will throw at the Master’s feet.
The chances to make a difference are ripe and ready for the taking. Take all you can for the glory of God, My Friend. Dark times are a perfect backdrop for your light, His light in you, to shine. May the gleam of your gifts shine so bright that others see God and bring a smile to our heavenly Father.
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
You know this: For the unbeliever, sin separates and without repentance and a turning to Jesus as the only Way out, all hope is lost of a reunion with God. What God wants to remind you is that sin also can do damage to a believer’s relationship with Him. Salvation cannot be lost once obtained through faith, but God has more to give than merely missing Hell, My Friend. As a bride hopes for more than a ceremony, so God desires more from that initial decision to trust Him. Sin can no longer keep you out of heaven, but it sure can bar the door to a million other blessings.
Is there a sin you cherish at this time in your life, one that in the rush of life you have allowed to go unchecked? It happens to all of us, but now is a great time to bring it to God as the ugly thing it is. That thing has its pleasures but dulls your appetite for God, separates you from spiritual power, healthy relationships, and answered prayers (Psalm 66:18) Sin downplays what you are missing by being in the “far country”(Luke 15:11-13) and offers faulty reasoning as to why you should not return home to your First Love (Revelation 2:4-5)
Do not make it complicated.
Remember above all that no excuse is a match for the power of God to give you strength both to return to Him and to stay with Him. Ask God for it, ask Him to search your heart. He is gentle and always extends open arms and a listening ear. So much of what you have been striving for lies on the other side of repentance. Whatever is in your way is not worth missing the abundance and joy that await.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I have heard that plastic shopping bags can be crocheted or knitted into beautiful handbags. I use the same shopping bags to line my small trash cans, to cover my head when I forget my umbrella, and in a pinch, to serve as a plastic cap when doing a hot oil treatment. What other ways do you use those bags?
Recycling makes use of something in multiple ways so as to minimize waste and to extract as much value as possible. God does the same with your trials. He never wastes trouble but instead uses it to purify you so that Jesus is more visible and so that God extracts more glory from your life. The Father recycles irritations, inconveniences, and uncertainties and makes them His means of transformation to the very thing you may have been asking Him to bring about in you.
Don’t fight it, My Friend. Since you and I cannot escape this difficult season, let us yield to what the Master is doing and say with Job, “…when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Only the Divine Recycler can take the tiny shopping bags of this current situation and turn them into gold. Let Him!