A Ready-Made Garden

May 27, 2022 Leave a comment

As I was working in my garden this week, I kept reminding myself of how much I was going to love sitting on my patio this summer surrounded by thriving, flowering plants. I had to keep repeating this mantra because gardening is hard work.

In the midst of one of my many “rest periods,” I thought of the verse from Genesis 2:8, “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden.” That sounded good to me, especially the part about God doing the planting. When Adam and Eve showed up in Eden, they had a ready-made garden, because God had already done all the heavy lifting for them.

This concept of God “serving” or “working” for His children is present throughout the Bible; yet, most believers are taught the opposite. That is, as followers of Christ, we are urged to find ways to serve Him. While it’s true we are to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2), we are never to think our service toward God is anything He actually needs, that somehow He would be lacking something if we did not render Him our service.

In fact, when Paul was preaching to the Athenians, he tried to dissuade them from having such an attitude. He says in Acts 17:24-25, “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.” God doesn’t need anything from us, because he is the Giver of all things; He is the self-sufficient One..

The proper response to our Giver is to receive His gifts with an abundantly grateful heart, acknowledging we have nothing to give in return. Peter tells us to serve “as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 4:11).

The service that glorifies God is service rendered through Him alone.

Don’t Stay Away!

April 2, 2022 Leave a comment

There’s a verse of Scripture in Hebrews that gives me pause whenever I read it. It’s Hebrews 10:22, “Therefore . . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”

Drawing near to God sounds like a terrific idea. So, why don’t we draw near? What makes us stay away?

Believers don’t stay away from God on purpose. It’s usually the result of not doing something, rather than actually doing something.

Not confessing sin. 

After the writer of Hebrews described what Jesus did for sinners by his death on the cross, he writes in verse 27, “If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” Unconfessed sin makes us reluctant to be near the One whose responsibility it is to judge sin. We’re afraid, so we stay away.  

Not knowing truth. 

The writer uses the word,”therefore,” before telling believers to draw near to God. That’s because he’s been explaining great truths having to do with the meaning of the Lamb-like sacrifice and what the shedding of Christ’s blood did for sinners. He says such knowledge gives us confidence to come before God. The reverse is also true. By not knowing what Christ did when He laid down His life for us, we have no confidence and cannot draw near to Him.

Not having faith. 

The writer says we are to come before God “with full assurance of faith.” Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who draws near to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him,” While our faith in God is a gift from Him (Ephesians 2:8-9), we must be willing to act on that faith or we will never draw near to Him.

What happens when we draw near?

Hebrews 4:16 tells us we receive “mercy and grace to help in time of need,” and Hebrews 7:25 says those who draw near to God will discover, “He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Draw near. Take the pathway into His Presence made just for you.

Don’t stay away!!

I Can Do Anything

February 9, 2022 Leave a comment

I love the story of the little girl whose mother found her crying in the kitchen. When her mother asked her what was wrong, she said, “I’m in the kitchen, but I still don’t know how to cook.” Her mother put her up on a kitchen stool and proceeded to help her bake some cookies. Later, as they munched on the delicacies, the little girl observed, “If I let you do it, I can do anything.”

There are times when I’m standing in the middle of life, and I suddenly realize I don’t know how to do it. That’s when I try to remember to do these three things. By doing so, I feel as if I can do anything.

1. Ask God to take over.

Not long ago there was a popular song entitled “Jesus Take The Wheel.” It’s almost comical to think of Jesus of Nazareth in a long white robe and dusty sandals sitting in the driver’s seat and tooling along the highway of life with me in the passenger seat. However, while the picture may be amusing, the concept is theologically sound. John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” You can have peace; He’s overcome all the obstacles. Trust Him.

2.  Allow others to help you.

It’s an all-American ideal to “make it on our own” or to “act independently,” but, that’s not a Biblical concept. When Paul speaks of believers in Christ, he describes each one as part of a whole. In fact, he sees this whole as if it were a human body. He says in 1 Corinthians 12:14, “the body is not one member, but many.” When I ask help from a fellow believer, I’m functioning in the way God intended His Spiritual body on earth to function.

3. Accept the personality God gave you.

Are you an introvert? Then don’t expect to live as an extrovert. Do you enjoy talking? Then don’t expect to stay silent. God says in Psalm 17, “You are the apple of my eye,” and in Isaiah 44:2, “This is what the LORD says– he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you:” Perhaps the best passage for understanding the hand of God upon the life of every individual is Psalm 139. The message in these verses is that God made you the way you are, and you glorify Him when you accept this truth.

Ask God.

Allow Others.

Accept Yourself.

Remember this pyramid with God at the pinnacle. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.

A Little Reality, Please

December 29, 2021 Leave a comment

Most of us realize the food ads we see in magazines and on television are created by highly skilled photographers, and the food has been artfully manipulated to make it appear irresistible. A few years ago, I saw an article that described what happened when a professional photographer took pictures of the real thing and placed it alongside an appealing ad for the same product.  The results were humorous, though not too surprising.

In God’s Word, He’s presented us a “photograph” of the best, His Son.  Placed alongside Him, we fare badly, never able to fully measure up to His beauty, His holiness, and His lovingkindness.  Just like fast food in the real world isn’t exactly like the fast food presented by the advertising world, we live in the real world and have the scars to prove it.  However, one day an expert photographer will appear and airbrush away all our flaws.  Then, we’ll look our best. We’ll live in the best world, and most importantly, we’ll live with The Best.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”  1 John 3:2

Categories: Devotionals Tags:

Why Was He Born?

December 8, 2021 Leave a comment

Born to be cursed, not to curse.
Born for sinners, not to sin.
Born to love, not to hate.
Born to accept, not to reject.
Born for failure, not for success.
Born to poverty, not to wealth.
Born for hope, not despair.
Born for healing, not for affliction.
Born to set free, not to bind up.
Born to reveal, not to conceal.
Born for laughter, not tears.
Born for compassion, not anger.
Born to die, not to live.

Blurry Around The Edges?

October 31, 2021 Leave a comment

One of the great things about most cameras today is the automatic focusing feature. I’m old enough to remember using a camera that required fiddling with a bunch of dials before snapping the picture. Most of the time, those waiting to be photographed weren’t very patient about this process, and, oftentimes, after all that effort, the photo turned out to be out of focus after all.

As children of God, it would be nice to have this automatic focusing mechanism built into our daily lives, so that the moment our lives became blurry around the edges—from taking part in all the world has to offer, from neglecting Bible study, from participating in non-glorifying  activities—then our focus would automatically be returned to our Father and to living out Christ in us, “the hope of Glory” (Colossians 1:27).

However,  none of us have an automatic focusing mechanism. What we have is something even better—the Word of God. While having a device to automatically redirect one’s focus towards God sounds good, in reality, such a device would ultimately lead to taking God for granted, and it would not adhere to the command to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

God’s Word directs us to focus on Him in numerous passages of Scripture throughout the Old and New Testament. One of my favorites is 2 Thessalonians 3:5: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

Have you lost your focus? Direct your heart today to the love of God“The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

Direct your heart to the steadfastness of Christ. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Spending time  with the Lord in daily Bible study brings clarity to our lives and sharpens an otherwise blurry picture.

A God Who Loves Dirt

September 14, 2021 Leave a comment

DirtI love the way David describes how God treats His children in Psalm 103. David says He satisfies your desires with good things.”(Psalm 103:5).

Later on in this Psalm, David writes, “He remembers we are but dust,” and he writes this in connection with the compassion of God.  “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are but dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14).

God created human beings out of a common substance, a substance of little worth, just a handful of dirt. Inside this dirt-formed vessel, He placed an image of Himself. When that happened, something of little value became something of infinite value—a living human being. Every human being born after Adam reflects this God-likeness.

Even though we bear His likeness, we are still just dirt, and He remembers this. He knows our frailties, our weaknesses, our dirt, and because of this, He has compassion on us. The Psalmist says, “He crowns you with love and compassion.” (Psalm 103:4).

Even though we’re made of dirt, we have a regal bearing because, as God’s children, we wear the crown of His compassion and love. That’s why David begins and ends this Psalm with these words. “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” (Psalm 103:22).

To Be Loved

August 18, 2021 1 comment

The words, “I don’t love you,” have to be the most hurtful words ever spoken. As human beings, we are born with the desire to be loved. Whether it’s romantic love, family love, brotherly love or even self love, God gave us the desire to be loved and to love God, others, and ourselves.

Love comes from God. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” (1 John 4:7).

Because human love is so flawed by sin, none of us can ever love ourselves or another human being perfectly. In the same way, until we receive our glorified, perfected bodies, we can’t love God perfectly.

God has no such hindrances. He loves perfectly. On three different occasions, the prophet Daniel was told by the angel Gabriel that he was greatly loved by God. “I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” (Daniel 9:23). The same thought is expressed in Daniel 10: 11 and Daniel 10:19.

How sweet those words must have sounded to Daniel! How would you like to hear those words for yourself? Well, you can.

Paul says in Ephesians 2:4-5: “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses,made us alive together with Christ.”

God’s love is on display for us in Romans 5:8.But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Like Daniel, God sent word to us that we are greatly love. He sent  His Word in the form of His Son who demonstrated how much he really loved us by paying the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross

Accept His love. Bask in His Love. Know His love for all eternity.

What Does God Know About Worry?

July 29, 2021 Leave a comment

Everything, of course. That’s why we should follow his instructions about living a worry-free life. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.” Matthew 6:25.

Even though it’s worded a little differently each time, the command not to worry appears in all of the gospels, including a double warning in the gospel of John. “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27.

Paul also teaches the worry-free life in his letters. “Do not be anxious about anything . . .” Philippians 4:6. As clear as that command is, the “how to” of dealing with worry is equally straightforward.

Philippians 4:7, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Not surprisingly, Peter echoes Paul’s solution to worry in 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Humble yourselves . . . casting all your anxieties  upon him, for he cares for you.”

The writer of Hebrews says we can be sure of his help when we are troubled. He writes, “So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear . . .” Hebrews 13:6.

According to God’s Word, by bringing our worries and cares to the Lord, we are rewarded with the strength and peace to deal with life’s inevitable anxieties.

And, because God is always overflowing in his care for us, He promises to do this for us anew every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning . . .”

What does God know about worry?  Everything.

Trust Him. He’s got this. Leave your worries with Him.

It’s About Knowing God

June 12, 2021 Leave a comment

I was talking with a young lady who’d been a believer for several years, but who decided to sign up for a weekly Bible study. She said, “I want to know God. I know that won’t happen if I don’t study my Bible.”

Without realizing it, this young lady had made a profound statement. There’s no way anyone can know God except through the study of Scriptures, because that’s the way He’s chosen to reveal Himself to us.

Thus, the best way to get to know God is to read, study, and meditate on the love letter He’s written to us in the Scriptures.

I met my husband-to-be one summer when I was sixteen years old, but we lived a thousand miles away from each other during the school year, so we never had the opportunity to spend any time together. I understood now why my friends and family were surprised when I announced that James and I were getting married only a couple of months after my eighteenth birthday. What they failed to grasp was that James and I had been corresponding with each other regularly for almost two years, and because of those letters, we’d come to know each other as well as many couples who’d been dating for several years.

While this illustrates the concept of getting to know God through reading His Word, it fails to portray the real picture of how intimacy with God is possible through the study of His Word.

This truth can only be experienced when a believer spends time in the Word every day. This is the way God has chosen to build a relationship with His children. This is the way God speaks to His children, and this is the way His children learn to recognize the voice of the Father.

Jesus said His followers are able to recognize His voice. John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

If you truly “want to know God,” become familiar with the sound of His voice through His Word.

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