Listening to Love

John 10:27-28 ~ NLT
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,”
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The people hearing Jesus’ message for the first time, may have had difficulty believing it. They had been waiting for a Messiah for so long, Jesus’ words might have seemed too good to be true. After leaders who had used them for their own gain, hearing about a leader who truly loved them must have sounded like more than they could believe.
 
God doesn’t love us in the way of human understanding. God’s love will never change, no matter what happens. Nothing can take us away from His love and nothing can make Him take His love away from us. God’s love is a love that never quits, how encouraging that knowledge is for our hearts; God will never leave us alone.
 
Nothing in the entire world could ever take God’s love away from us. We can’t do anything to make Him retract it. God doesn’t change His mind about us. From the moment you were conceived God was confident and unshakeable in His choice to love you. He doesn’t change His mind and He doesn’t leave us. That isn’t what the love of the Father does, He sticks with us through everything, no matter what.
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Open Our Eyes

Matthew 20:33 ~ NLT
““Lord,” they said, “we want to see!””
Jesus was coming into the city and two blind men started crying out for Him to have mercy on them and heal them. The crowd told them to be quiet, but they called out all the more loudly. Jesus heard them and healed their eyes so they could see.
 
I found it interesting that the crowd tried to quiet these men, similarly to how the disciples tried to send the children away from Jesus. Far too often, people who are desperate for God’s Presence and love will be hushed or even discarded. The good news is, God doesn’t listen to the naysayers; God listens to His children. When we cry to Him, we are guaranteed an answer.
 
I love the words the blind men used, “Lord, we want to see!” They didn’t have to use big words and long prayers. They just stated their needs and desires before Jesus, and He healed them. So many of us long to see a revival throughout America, what if we started that revival by praying the prayer of the blind men? Open our eyes let us see. What would we see if we took a look through Heaven’s eyes? Would we see people as too dirty to be worth our time? Or would we see God’s children who are broken and desperately need God’s touch, even if they know it?
 
Today, I am praying that your eyes are opened and that when you look around you see PEOPLE rather than mere human bodies as you go through your day. Let’s all be the love of Jesus to the people we see, maybe the people that nobody else seems to see or notice. You never know how much a smile and a friendly greeting could mean to someone. Once hope gets started, it’s impossible to stop, so let’s get it started.

Persevere to the Promise

1 Peter 5:10 ~ NLT
“In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”
Now that’s some of the best news you’ll hear all day. Through His kindness, God was willing to send Jesus to earth to save us. He did all of that just so we would have the opportunity to spend forever with Him. We will be able to encounter Him and rest in His Presence for the rest of, well, forever.
 
Until we arrive in Heaven, however, there are a lot of things we have to deal with and handle. Life is no picnic, as they say. It doesn’t matter what your life is like, everyone faces trials and hardships of different degrees. Nobody is excluded. That’s not the greatest news, but, there is hope to go with it.
 
Here’s the good news, whenever we go through hard times, God is there to back us up with His love. Everything we lose in the fire, God will restore with something better than we could have imagined. Through the difficult times, we have God’s support and encouragement. When things are harder than we think we can handle, God will strengthen us so we can. And finally, through our entire lives, in good times and bad, we can trust that we are standing somewhere safe, and that’s on the love of God.

Hope Holds On

Romans 8:24 ~ CEB

“We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see?”

As I was doing my devotions and read this verse, I knew I had to share it today. There was just something about it that jumped out at me and I knew I had to share it. In the midst of the last days before Christmas, things can seem extremely dark. Hope may be one of the last things on people’s minds this Christmas season. Many studies have shown that people often feel down this time of year, that is why hope is such a necessary thing during the Christmas season.

People felt hopeless in the Bible too, our generation isn’t the first to experience this. Take Mary as an example, she was young and engaged and PREGNANT which was completely unacceptable in her culture. Yet, Mary did not become hopeless and dejected, she held on to the hope that the angel had given with the message. That is true hope, even when she had no proof that her child was the Messiah, she believed anyway, that this baby would be just who God said. She put her hope and trust in God that He would do what He said.

Hope is a very high commodity in heaven. There is no shortage of hope among heavenly forces. The news we receive from God and the experiences we have on earth aren’t always good, but there is always a promise of something greater waiting for all who choose to grasp it. We may not – and probably won’t – understand everything that God has in-store for us, but we can always trust and believe that it will work out towards the greater purpose of His plan. There’s always hope.

Lose the Labels

Luke 1:36-37 ~ CEB

“Look even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ”unable to conceive” is now six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God.”

Society seems to love labeling people. We have labels for things we understand, things we are trying to understand, and things we just don’t care to understand. These labels are often very quickly assigned and rarely easily removed. When things start going wrong, out come the labels. Before people even get a chance to defend themselves, out come the labels. That’s just what we do, we try to explain things and find a system. We do it almost without thinking.

This was done in the Bible as well. Obviously, Elizabeth was labeled, that’s what the verse says, but there were many people just like her. David was labeled as too young and too weak to be of any use to the army in battle, just look how that turned out, he ended up killing Goliath. Everybody probably thought Noah was some crazy old fool who had absolutely no idea what he was doing, but he ended up being the only one alive when the flood came. There are dozens and dozens of these people, labeling is not a new custom.

With a society so quick to assign labels, it is not uncommon that people are labeled incorrectly. Almost all people have been labeled as something that they are not at least once in their lifetime. The good news for those who have been incorrectly labeled is, the only opinion we need to concern ourselves with is God’s. He knows truths about us that we may not even know about ourselves, and He holds the plan for our entire lives. So let them talk. They think you’re crazy? That’s okay, at the end of this you’re gonna have a boat. They think you’re too pathetic to ever amount to anything? Prove them wrong! God has a plan and a purpose that was specifically made for you and no label is strong enough to hold back the fire God placed in your heart for your life. So live it, who cares what they say? Nothing can stop God’s plan, they’ll get used to it.

Perspective in the Presence

Psalm 76:26 ~ NLT

“My health my fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.”

 

In the beginning of this chapter, the psalmist tells of all the terrible things that have been happening in recent times. It seemed that his enemies had been conquering on every side and nothing was going right for him. The chapter reaches a turnaround in verse 17, however. Until Asaph went to the temple and got in the Presence of God, he didn’t understand what was going on and why God was allowing it to happen. As soon as he got in the Presence, his perspective changed because he was able to see the situation through God’s eyes, instead of his own.

When we go through hard times, it is of vital importance that we make sure we are giving ourselves plenty of time to get in the Presence of God and draw our focus from Him. I’m not talking about just “a verse a day to keep the devil away”. A quick Jesus fix while you’re standing in line at Starbucks isn’t going to get you through the storm. Daily communication with God is essential to maintaining a firm foundation in the middle of trials.

The important thing to remember is when we get in the Presence of God, our perspective changes. When we get our focus off of the storm and on to God, we start to see the way He sees, we see that the battle has already been won for us. You may be on the retreat right now, but hold on, God is setting up an ambush for your enemies. Hold on to God, He’s got a plan and it is far better than anything the enemy could draw up against you.

October 13, 2017

Numbers 9:22 ~ NKJV
“Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and would not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey.”

Have you ever been traveling in a group and it feels like every five minutes somebody has to stop for something? That might be how the Israelites felt. God has promised them this beautiful land, but every few days they would have to stop and wait. I think for them, God was more interested in making sure their hearts were right with Him than how many miles they made in a day. Often, He does the same thing to us.
Sometimes it can be easy to get so caught up in the destination that we miss the journey. The people of Israel wanted to get to the Promised Land so bad that they weren’t focusing on the journey. The people complained about EVERYTHING you could possibly imagine. They lost the wonder of being free and being with God and starting seeing everything wrong with the process. There wasn’t enough water, the food tasted bad, who put Moses in charge anyway? On and on and on, there was no end to the complaining.
It is important to remember as we journey to our Promise to look for the good stuff. The journey might be long and it might be hard, but that just makes the Promised Land seem that much better when we get there. It’s not going to be easy, that’s the point. The process prepares us for the Promise. And we are going to make it one day, but we have to be patient through the whole journey and trust that God is in control and He knows what He is doing.