Stay Seeking

Psalm 27:8 ~ ESV
“You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to You, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.””
If Passionate Pursuit had a theme verse, I could see this being it. This should be the message of our hearts, the message of our lives. That we hear the voice of God telling us to seek Him and pursue Him, and our hearts respond with a definitive, wholehearted yes. That’s all God wants, He wants us to say yes. He doesn’t want us to be perfect, that would be an impossible expectation. God sent Jesus to be perfect so we don’t have to anymore. It isn’t about perfection, it’s about desire. My dad says, “Your desire to please Him, pleases Him.” It’s that simple. Are you trying to please God? Then you are winning! You don’t have to impress Him! That’s never been the goal.
 
God isn’t impressed by our striving. He isn’t impressed when we exhaust ourselves trying to prove ourselves worthy of His love. He chose you! That makes you worthy! You don’t have to earn it or impress Him. As long as you are saying “yes”, as long as you are seeking Him with your whole heart, it doesn’t matter if it is ”perfect”. We can’t bridge the gap between heaven and earth by ourselves, we could never get there. But when God sees His kids reaching out to Him, He reaches right back and life as we know it is never the same because one person decided to seek Him with everything.
 
Life isn’t about becoming perfect, it’s about becoming more like God. It’s about, little by little, stepping out of our comfort zones. To live for the extraordinary rather than settling for mediocrity. It’s about chasing God with everything you have, no matter what it looks like. You don’t have to wait to have all your ducks in a row to chase after God. I don’t have my ducks in a row, (I may even have lost some around here somewhere) but I’m still chasing God. There is going to be a point when you have to decide that you want a relationship over a religion. If you are living in religion, you’ll never feel ready, and you won’t be. But if you choose a real relationship with Jesus, the living God who desperately wants to love you, you’ll never wish for anything else. I will warn you though, following Jesus will completely ruin you for the ordinary. You’ll want to see God show up and do awesome things in everyday life. It may get to the point that you expect God to show up in normal circumstances, and the cool thing is, He will. When you seek after God like He seeks you, awesome things start to happen, so you’d better be ready.
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Placed with Princes

1 Samuel 2:8 ~ NKJV
“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and makes them inherit the throne of glory.”
 
What a great God we serve! This is the message of the gospel. This is why in the midst of any circumstances we can have hope and peace. If it weren’t for Jesus, who knows where any of us would be, but by the grace of God we aren’t living that way anymore. We serve a God who is big into redemption and restoration. When we give our lives over to Jesus and say yes to His plan, He brings us out of the mud we had chosen to stay in and brings us into his Kingdom. We get to spend eternity with Jesus because He chose to love us when we were at our most unlovable.
 
There is nothing too dirty or too broken for God to redeem it. At some point in your life, you have probably done things that you now wish you hadn’t. Good news! So has everybody else – ever. The question isn’t whether you made mistakes because you have – it’s part of life – the question is whether you allow God to use those mistakes. Are you going to let God use your story to bring you and everyone around you closer to Him or are you going to let it separate you? No matter what you’ve done or where you have been, God can redeem and restore everything to the way He meant you to be. If you let Him, God will use everything you’ve experienced for His glory.
 
As we grow closer to God and become more like Him, we can begin to see how our stories all combine to tell God’s story. One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that God has set you completely free from your past. All the shame and guilt and condemnation that you had to carry with you is gone. Through Jesus, you are no longer a beggar, you aren’t an orphan. You are a chosen son or daughter of the King of kings. You have value to the Kingdom. Nothing you ever have done or ever could do could make God change His mind about you.
 
Today I am praying for every single one of you that you would experience God’s love in a real way. As you go through your day, that you would encounter God the way you have never encountered Him before in your lifetime. I am praying that today would be a landmark in your journey. That you would realize today how much you mean to the King of Heaven and how great His love for you is. You don’t have to earn it or try to impress Him. You just have to let Him love you. If you will do that, God will do amazing things through your life.

Unforgettable

Isaiah 49:15 ~ NKJV
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will never forget you.”
If you think about that verse you can see the true beauty of it. It would be impossible for a mother to forget her child, especially when it is nursing. If she did happen to forget, it wouldn’t be for long because that baby would start screaming like crazy when it got hungry, then the mom would remember. Still, it would be difficult for her to forget in the first place. I’m sure all the moms reading this would agree with me on that one.
 
Compared to God and the way He loves us, it would be easier for a mom with a nursing baby to forget her child than for God to forget about you. That is an amazing promise. Even with all the screaming and crying of a nursing baby, it would still be easier for a mom to forget her kid than for God to forget you for an instant. When everything is falling to pieces and it feels like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, you can be confident in the fact that God is still hearing you! He will never forget about you!
 
In order to forget about us, God would have to first, make Himself a liar because He promised not to forget us in His Word. Beyond that, He would have to be in complete contradiction of Himself. The heart of a Father doesn’t forget His kids. His heart is for you. God thinks about you, constantly! You’re His favorite thing in all creation, how could He forget about you? He couldn’t! That’s not the God we serve. You never have to feel alone or abandoned because God will always be with you. You never walk alone. This Kind of the universe thinks you are the coolest thing ever. The only one left to convince is yourself because you are important enough to be remembered.

Focus on Jesus

Psalm 25:15 ~ ESV
“My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.”
 
There are so many distractions in life, sometimes they are welcome and sometimes they aren’t so welcome. In fact, it seems that today, distractions are thriving and that is exactly how the enemy likes it. If he can get us distracted, he can get us discouraged and then we are in a whole heap of mess. When we get discouraged, we aren’t motivated to do anything because we start to think that we could never make a difference.
 
So, what do we do when we get bogged down in all the troubles and worries of life? Do what the verse says, fix our eyes on Jesus. That is the answer to every problem, when we focus on Jesus and His power, our problems start to shrink as we look away from them. As we focus on Jesus, our perspective changes and suddenly we are going back to who we know He is. We start to remember what He has done before and that He hasn’t left us. You might start to get happy if you do that! You could be in the middle of the biggest mess of your life, but if you focus on Jesus I promise your outlook will be brighter.
 
The really cool part about this verse is, as we look to Jesus and focus on Him, He will take care of everything else. The verse says that God will pluck our feet out of the net. It doesn’t say He will work our feet out of the net, that He will work to untangle it. No! He will PLUCK our feet out of the net. Just like that, done! Our problems never have been and never will be greater than the power of God. You don’t have to get yourself out, God will always be there to get you out of any situation.
 
Today I am praying for all of you that no matter what you are facing today. No matter what situation is staring you in the face, that you won’t focus on it. That your eyes would be locked on Jesus and you would be so tuned into Him that you don’t even hear the storm. Stay focused on Jesus, and He will never let you down, you can count on that.

Never Alone

 
Isaiah 41:10 ~ NIV
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
As I was praying this morning and asking God what I should write, He brought this verse to my mind. About a year ago, I was helping to lead a class of 1-3 graders and we memorized it in class. Every couple of words, we had a little movement to help solidify the verse in our minds. Every night we learned a new verse and by the end of the week, some of the kids were able to quote all of them just by hearing the references! I say that to show how important memorizing the Bible is. Just a few verses here and there can have an incredible impact on you when you are in a tough spot, or in a good spot. There is always something to learn from the Word of God.
 
I also want to talk about this verse in particular. That first sentence is extremely powerful. We never have to be afraid because we never have to go through anything alone. There are a lot of times when the scariest part of a situation is thinking that you will have to go through it alone. But that is never the truth because God will never abandon us.
 
Then there is that next part, “do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” There are certain situations in which it doesn’t feel like enough to not be alone, sometimes we need a little influence to go with it. Here is some influence for you, the God who created the whole universe with His voice calls you His son or daughter! That’s some powerful influence! Not only does that give you influence, it can give you confidence because God will back you up whenever you need it. All you have to do is ask and He is right there with you.
 
I saved my favorite part of this verse for last, plus it was the last part of the verse, so it makes sense. It says that God will strengthen us and help us, cool! But it also says He will hold us up with His righteous right hand. How cool is that?! In the Bible, the right hand was the hand of blessing and the left hand was either a lesser blessing or a flat-out curse! Now, here’s the good part: God doesn’t save the best of His goodness and love for the “perfect” or “important” people. He saves it for you! You are important to Him and He has saved the best for you!
 
You never have to feel alone, or abandoned, and you never have to feel like you were created to be “less than” anyone else. Don’t let those lies steal into your mind. You were created with a unique light and purpose that this world desperately needs! Trust God to give you what you need to carry what He destined for you. He isn’t going to call you into something that you aren’t capable to handle.

Even Today

Zechariah 9:12 ~ NKJV
“Return to the stronghold, your prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.”
 
So, fun story, I wasn’t even reading Zechariah this morning. I was in Matthew and I set my Bible down to make a note of something I read. While I was writing, the pages flipped over (as they tend to do in thicker books) to this verse. As soon as I read it, I knew this verse was for today.
 
A lot of the time, it can seem like the world has gone crazy and taken us with it. Stuff is falling apart left and right and there seems to be nothing we can do about it. But when we return to our stronghold, God, in the midst of overwhelming chaos, He will give us peace.
 
I love the second part of this: “you prisoners of hope”. It creates an image of this hope we have as being completely inescapable. What a wonderful thing to be so surrounded by God’s hope that it takes your heart captive. *No matter what the outside circumstances are, you can have hope on the inside because the King of Glory has captured your heart!* That’s some awesome news!
 
Today I want to encourage every person who reads this, that God isn’t finished yet. He is in the process of restoring everything you’ve lost. Nothing good we give up in life for God is truly lost; God will redeem and restore the lost things for His glory. And today, everyone who is struggling with depression, feeling like they aren’t enough, disappointment, fear, and everything in between, today is your day. I claim that “even today” for you, today I am praying that you will be filled with hope and peace that you’ve never felt in your whole life. Today is the day! I declare it for all of you guys!
 
*- original thought credited to Pastor Phil Hurlbert

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.