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.
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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.

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.