Facebook and I have a love hate relationship. I am thankful for the ability to keep up with friends and family; however, the constant demand for attention and the heaps of negativity and drama are draining to life. Over the past few years, I have only skimmed my newsfeed and I ignore Messenger even if the constant new message notification icon frustrates my OCD tendencies. There is so much more to life. Nonetheless, I enjoy still keeping up with my family and friends, and I especially love looking at my memories each day. There is nothing like taking a walk down memory lane. For multiple reasons, my memory (both short-term and long-term) is not good. Taking these daily strolls is always an adventure. But this week, I got a surprise.
In my memory feed, I saw some old photos of my children and dogs. I saw events and gatherings. I saw some quotes I shared. Then I saw a blocked post. A blocked post! The reason? It “goes against our community standards.” Community standards? What? This is the word of God. “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation” (NIV). This verse from Isaiah 12:2 was as important to me then as it is to me now. Such a powerful declaration, a memory that came on just the day when I needed to be reminded of it once again. But it doesn’t follow community standards. And what are the community standards? Safety, voice, and equity.
The Word of God will always convict the world. Though His Word is Truth and should be our plumb line in life, where we hold everything up to the True Standard—His standards, the world will always see this as folly. But these community standards speak of our God more than the world will ever know. When we find that there is no true safety from the dangers of this world, we find refuge in Him. We find salvation in Him. When we find that the voices of this world are often sharing lies and agendas and hate and destruction, we can rest in Him and trust Him. He is our strength and our defense. When the lies are spoken about us, He speaks over us His truth, His love, His grace. When the world seems like there is no fairness, no justice, no equality, we find that He so loved EVERYONE, that He sent His only Son to pay the ultimate price so that we ALL have the opportunity to come to Him, to be free, to be redeemed, to be healed, to live out a great inheritance as a child of God, a son or daughter of the God Most High. That despite the doings of the father of lies and our own sin and shortcomings, we can have a loving, eternal relationship with our Father. He is my safety, my voice, my equity.
And so today, even while the world has community standards and wants to block the truth and keep you from receiving all that God has for you, reach out to Him. Draw near to the One who is Hope. Cling to the One who is Peace. Rejoice in the One who is King. One day, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess—JESUS IS LORD!
“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” – Isaiah 12:2 [NIV]
Life is a journey. Over the years, I learned that a journey isn’t the same during each part of the journey. There are highs and lows, good times and bad times. There are moments of rejoicing, and moments of sorrow and tears. When one sets out on a journey, so often the sojourner thinks the steps have been set, the days are fixed, and there is a great picture of what will result at the end of the journey. Consider a trip to an amusement park. You know stops along the way for refreshments and bathroom visits are likely. You know that fun will be had with rides and games. You may even have an itinerary in place. In the end, you know you will leave with a collection of photos, overly hyper children overcome by sugar and fast food, and perhaps a slight case of dehydration from the heat of a sunny day.
Life isn’t like that though. No matter how much you plan, how much you think that the steps have been set in place, that the days are fixed, life does not come all beautifully packaged. Yes, each of your days is written in the Book. Yes, all of your tears are caught in His bottle. Yes, He has a plan and a purpose for your life. Yes, there is a narrow path that few will choose. Yes, there is an end to the journey which culminates with the New Heaven and New Earth as we worship our King. But the journey—the journey is a journey of faith. And when you step forth in faith, you can only cling to the promises of God, lay everything down before Him, and trust that when the journey gets difficult, when the road gets hard, when people turn their backs, when eyes are opened, when jobs are lost, when health deteriorates, when the puzzle isn’t coming together like the picture on the box—that God is Sovereign, that God has everything beautifully orchestrated, and that nothing can snatch you from His hand.
As I sit here today, in the middle of turbulent part of my journey in life, I can certainly say that my mom never warned me of these days. There are days no one can prepare you for except for a life long journey filled with experiences—a journey filled with triumph and loss, pain and suffering, truth and lies. The scars of life, they sometimes feel as if they cover us completely—as if they will have the last say. But it is in the ashes, that we are reminded of God’s love for His children. We are reminded of the price that was paid. We are reminded that we will rise—that even when the days of this journey can be hard, and dark, and painful—that even when these days come—that God, in His infinite wisdom and His unfailing love, has victory. He has overcome. Now in Him, in Him we are washed. In Him, we find peace. In Him, we are made new. Over and over again. And one day, one day when our Lord returns, all will bow and confess, all will see His glory, and all things will be new.
“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.” – Psalm 37:23 [ESV]
“Even a courageous person’s steps are determined by the LORD, so how can anyone understand his own way?” – Proverbs 20:24 [CSB]
In Psalm 27, David demonstrates why he is known as the man after God’s own heart. The one thing, the ONE THING, that he sought from God above all else is the privilege of living with Him. We don’t read of a grocery list of wants and desires for material things. We don’t read of David wanting for his own safety above all else, despite David spending much time being chased or being involved in battle. Above all else, he wants to enjoy the presence of God.
This is what a true relationship with God is all about—about craving God, delighting in His presence, wanting to be near Him. If you do not have this desire for God and His Word, if you find it okay to not seek out God and spend time with Him for even a day, it is most likely that God is not first in your life.
If you are not yet at this point in your walk with Jesus, do not be discouraged. Draw near to God. As you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. Be intentional with your time. Carve out parts of your day to enjoy His presence and dig into God’s Word. As you continue to meet with God, you will grow in your relationship with Him. You will begin to see the privilege of living with God. You will want to spend more time in His glory and grace. You will begin to enjoy the sweet loveliness of His face and crave Him above all else.
“Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.”- Psalm 27:4 [TPT]
On a Saturday morning, I find myself sleeping in and spending more time in the Word. It is certainly a time of refreshment for me—the sleep and the time with God. We need rest. We need God.
Today’s verse speaks about how God restores and revives. The actual word translates to mean restore, refresh, renew, or revive. When you take a closer look, the Hebrew word “shub” means to turn back or return. This return is to a state you were once in, and this return is not from an occasional nap or reading the daily verse of the day. Shub points to a revival of your life, your strength, your energy. This is something God offers you daily, but it cannot happen if we are not staying connected and being mindful of His presence every day as we go through our day.
If you are feeling tired or drained or if you would like to sleep the next week of your life away, perhaps it is a good time to for shub, to turn back to Him and allow Him to pour into you. What is needed for shub? You simply return. Be intentional about prayer and reading your Bible. As you lean into Him in prayer, as you dig deeper into His Word, you will be restored and revived. Remember this shub isn’t a cat nap that gets you to finish your day with no major issues—there’s so much more! I pray this return to your first love will restore and revive you. The fruit of this revival points to the fullness of God.
“That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name. – Psalm 23:3 [TPT]
I buy milk at the grocery store so that my children can have cereal and I can drink my morning coffee. I go to the gym so that I can get exercise to take care of my health. I walk the dogs every morning so that I can have quiet time with God and get the dogs some fresh air. The “so that” is important. Things are often connected. God has a plan. God uses everything for His good purpose. Things are often connected.
In Psalm 23:3, David wrote that God opens and He leads. The verse includes a “so that” which cannot be passed over. He opens and He leads SO THAT you can bring honor to his name. Things are often connected. Yes, we get to enjoy the fruit of open pathways and leading with footsteps of righteousness, but this all is to point to Someone greater. The doors that open are to point to Jesus. The footsteps of righteousness point to Jesus. All that we do and say should point to Jesus.
Today, look out for the “so that.” Consider the people God brings before you today. Consider the time, talent, and treasures in your possession. Consider the circumstances and events of the day. Be open to the “so that,” and remember the importance of bringing honor to His name. With your words, with your actions, with every breath may you honor Him!
“That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name.- Psalm 23:3 [TPT]
In Psalm 23:1, David declares that the Lord is his shepherd and he has all that he needs. The Passion Translation breaks it down as “The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.” Oftentimes in life, we find ourselves seeing God in one way and not fully embracing His many attributes. We want Him as Savior but we do not see Him as King as is evident by our life choices. We call Him our friend but that friendship doesn’t align with us seeing Him as our Shepherd. We want God to fit in a package we have designed just for Him.
If you draw near to God, you are promised that He will draw near to you. In His presence, you will continue to experience the revelation of God. As you seek His face, your eyes will be opened. You will realize that He can be both your best friend and your Shepherd. He can be both your Redeemer and the Lord Most High.
As you allow God to reveal Himself to you with each day, you will find that you always have more than enough. You will find that He is the best of best friends. You will find that His love is unfailing. You will find that He is your Refuge and Strength. Draw near today.
“The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough.” – Psalm 23:1 [TPT]
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
- Love is Patient… fill in gaps with GRACE
- Love is Kind… do GOOD & be GENEROUS to all
- Love Rejoices with Truth… DELIGHT in truth
- Love Always
“Love Always”… used to use this as my signature for cards and letters
Realized that I do not “Love Always.”
Always means ALL THE TIME
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7 Living Bible (TLB)
7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
1 Corinthians 13:7 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.
1 Corinthians 13:7 The Passion Translation (TPT)
7 Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
Love BEARS all things – Love BEARS always
YOU WILL BE LOYAL TO HIM NO MATTER WHAT THE COST
YOU WILL NEVER STOP BEING PATIENT
LOVE COVERS… PROTECTS
1 Peter 4:8 (NASB)
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Charles Spurgeon noted that… “This love both covers and bears all things. It never proclaims the errors of others. It refuses to see faults unless it may kindly help in their removal. It stands in the presence of a fault with a finger on its lips.”
Love BELIEVES all things – Love BELIEVES always
YOU WILL ALWAYS BELIEVE IN HIM
Expect the best of others (of what’s in them now)
You recognize they are made in the image of God — you see the very best in them now
You believe in someone until you are shown otherwise – give benefit of the doubt
Romans 12:10 English Standard Version (ESV)
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Faith in what God has made available now
Love HOPES all things – Love HOPES always
YOU WILL ALWAYS EXPECT THE BEST OF HIM
Expect the best of others (of what is to come)
You recognize that God has a greater purpose in a person’s life, a plan & purpose of His design — you see what God wants to do in a person’s life.
Love looks forward with confidence & grace
Trust that expects fulfillment of the future promises of God
1 Timothy 4:10 English Standard Version (ESV)
10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
Romans 8:24 The Passion Translation (TPT)
24 For this is the hope of our salvation.
But hope means that we must trust and wait for what is still unseen. For why would we need to hope for something we already have?
Love ENDURES all things – Love ENDURES always
YOU WILL ALWAYS STAND YOUR GROUND IN DEFENDING HIM
YOU WILL NEVER GIVES UP
To endure – To remain under
Perseveres despite situations / circumstances
No matter what!
1 Corinthians 9:12 (NASB)
12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
In Closing, look to God to understand what it means to LOVE ALWAYS…
Love Bears… God bears… He pours out grace & mercy despite your sins and shortcomings. Your sins cannot stand up to His grace.
Love Believes… God believes the best in you – God designed you for His good purpose & God sees you as His Son.
Love Hopes… God has your future beautifully orchestrated & God sees who you will be – the beautiful masterpiece
Love Endures… God loves NO MATTER WHAT… He truly LOVES ALWAYS!