There is a lot of noise in the world. I love Sundays because I can enjoy quietness. I don’t hear the bells and whistles of the world. I get to experience quiet. I get to experience peace. I get to sit on the sofa and read God’s Word and simply listen. I do the same thing on lunch break during the week. I lock myself in my car, locking out the rest of the world, and spend time with God and His Word in the quietness. There is such unexplainable peace with our time together.
In Isaiah, we read of this “quietness and confidence.” This comes from righteousness. The righteousness comes from Christ. The confidence is assurance, assurance that comes from Christ and what He has done for us to be justified by faith. We only need believe.
One day justice will rule and righteousness will bring a peace beyond our understanding. This is not something we can do on our own—only through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is this quietness and confidence possible, only through Him can we have this forever.
“Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.” – Isaiah 32:16-17 [NLT]
You cannot go anywhere without hearing about how to stay young and beautiful. There are so many different medications, treatments, home remedies, fitness regimes, etc. to help people stay looking young and beautiful. There are so many types of makeup as well as medical procedures to help keep this look as the years continue.
Is there something on the market that can make a person beautiful forever? Not at all. Eventually the face lifts and makeup cannot hide what natural aging has done to one’s face. But we are told in Isaiah of this promise to be beautiful forever. Only God could make someone or something beautiful forever.
God has offered each one of us eternal life. God has promised that he will make all things new. When you accept him into your heart, when you give your life to Jesus, as one of the saints you will be beautiful forever. Forever could start today. If you haven’t accepted Jesus into your life, or if it has been awhile since you have turned to Jesus, now is a great time to start your forever. Trust me, it will be beautiful.
“Though you were once despised and hated, with no one traveling through you, I will make you beautiful forever, a joy to all generations.” – Isaiah 60:15 [NLT]
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant can teach us all a great lesson about forgiveness. This lesson is geared toward elementary school children. The goal is to teach the children more about the topics of mercy and forgiveness and to encourage children to forgive and show mercy to others. The front page of this lesson provides a definition of mercy, a key verse, and breaks down God’s forgiveness. The second page is a fill-in sheet to be used with a discussion after reading Matthew 18:21-35 with the group. The activity/craft period of this lesson will be used to brainstorm how we can be better at forgiving. We will then make an art project or card for someone who we want to bless, someone who we may need to forgive for something or someone who we have forgiven in the past.
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“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
This past weekend was graduation. I walked into a room full of classmates uncertain of what to expect for the actual ceremony. We had practice the evening before, but I was not familiar with the different meaning of the cords and tassels that were being distributed. As I was handed my cords, I thought to myself, don’t I get the gold ones because most people were wearing gold cords. It seemed to me that the thing to have was those gold cords. I had to ask what the different cords meant to understand how things work and to my surprise, I was given different cords because I was the Class Salutatorian and therefore had these other colored cords for the honors.
This got me thinking about how we always seem to drift toward that which is common among others. If we see most people driving a particular car, buying a particular television, making a particular amount of money, participating in certain events, getting particular grades, etc., we want to do that too because everyone seems to be doing it so isn’t that the way to go?
The issue is that God made us unique and we shouldn’t be considering our performance based on how others are doing in life. We should see our worth in Christ and find our identity there alone. For some of us, we will get gold cords. For others, we won’t reach the gold cords. For some, we will get the spots above the gold cords. The cord color changes with each situation in life. But at the end of the day, we need to remember to follow the path God has presented and not look to get a gold cord at all, even if most everyone has the gold cords. It could be possible that He wants to do something else for you, something that will bring Him greater glory.
Today, I challenge you to see if you have been aiming for gold cords in an area of your life when God wants to do so much more to display His glory to those around you.
“I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” – Psalm 86:12
As a parent, a dog owner, and a former caretaker, I have made an observation. When there is something that may seem to be dangerous to a person or a pet, people and animals feel safer in the situation if there is someone between them and the danger. I can note that my best friend would most likely jokingly say that if I was between the danger, it gives her a chance to push me toward the danger and run. All joking aside, the truth is that we feel comfort knowing we are not alone with the situation, and there is this protective barrier that causes us to feel safe as well. My children were not so scared to approach the scary looking clown when they were little if I was standing on the side closest to the clown. It gave them security. They knew they were safe with mum.
We have a barrier of protection from God our Father. We are facing much more than scary looking clowns in this life, but God promises us that we are under His protective wing. “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge” (Psalm 91:4a NASB). The Bible says that “He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11 NASB). Isaiah 49:2 says that the shadow of God’s hand conceals us, and we can rest knowing that our walls are continually before Him (v.16).
God is between us and the world, protecting us from evil. This is not saying that evil will not come our way. It simply means that He will keep protection of our soul. When we are His children, we have the promise of victory in Christ. We have the promise of everlasting life with Him. There will be evil– bad things will come your way– but you can find comfort knowing that God is between you and the evil. He is your barrier of protection. You are able to seek Him at all times and at any location to help you walk by whatever is trying to break you down, cause you to fall, and disrupt your life. We never need to do life alone.
“The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”
– Psalm 121:7-8 [NASB]
Life is filled with changes. We experience change every day. Sometimes change can be good and sometimes it is not so well received. I know when it is unexpected, change can make one feel like the ground is shaking beneath them. It can be overwhelming and very unsettling.
Those who have graduated and proceeded forward with the journey through adulthood may be quite familiar with the class reunions. For some people, these meetings are grueling and they choose to stay away so that no one can detect their thinning hair or expanding waistline. Then there are others who want to go show everyone all that they have accomplished in the past.
This past week I had the opportunity to see someone who I have not seen in many years. Before the meeting, I honestly wondered if the person had changed at all. I have changed a lot these past years. To my surprise, the person did not change one bit. It was as if nothing at all happened in all those years.
After the meeting, I started thinking about how I have changed over the years. I also thought about the many new things I am embarking on at the present moment. Change can be scary. At times there is this feeling of uncertainty because of the unfamiliar ground we tread upon. Change can also hurt because quite possibly it is not what we expected or what we desired. Change can be so great and welcomed like the birth of newborn child. Change can also be something we wish we could refuse because we feel let down or failed.
This got me thinking about God and how He never changes. Our God is the same yesterday and today, and He will be the same tomorrow. I understand with all the changes that are happening around me and in my life, that He is always there through it all. Through each obstacle, He carries me through– He is always faithful. Through all the wrong turns, He is there to show me grace– He is always forgiving. Through every heartbreak, He is right by my side to comfort me– His love is never-ending.
Perhaps life is unfolding in a way you never imagined. Perhaps the road doesn’t look as smooth as it once did. There is no certainty of what can be expected for tomorrow. Nonetheless, I know one thing. I know that God will be there. He always is. And so, I accept whatever changes come my way, because in the end, I know He will be by my side.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8 [NASB]
I was driving down the road the other day, when a song started playing that really caught my attention. I heard the song many time before; however, this time I saw it differently. The song, “Forever,” by rising Country Singer-Songwriter Danielle Lowe, appears on her recent debut album, “Off Limits.” The song is a love song, but while I was driving down the street a few days ago, I wasn’t seeing it as a song shared between a man and woman. I heard a few lyrics that made me think of our relationship with God.
The song talks about two that are “meant to be together,” and says that their “love will last forever.” God is our Creator, and therefore we are forever connected. We are “meant to be together.” This relationship began when He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As time progressed, Abraham was called a “friend.” God sacrificed His Son to redeem us from our sins, and allow us to have eternal life. It is so clear to see that we are “meant to be together” and that for us God has a “love (that) will last forever.” He simply wants us to love Him back.
The song continues by making reference to love whether they have “a million dollars” or “a few,” because it didn’t matter either way. We are told to not put focus on temporal items. Luke 12:31 of the New Living Translation states: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.”
What really stuck out the most was my favorite part of the song. This part of the song says, “Let your heart help you find your way. It’s simple, you don’t have to be afraid.” Too many times, people try to make it appear difficult to love God. Some will pile up tons of laws along with the Law, and make it appear as if God is too far beyond everything to be reached. The rules overshadow God to these people. There are others who would love to attend church or study their Bibles; however, people are telling them they must dress a certain way or act a particular way to participate.
In reality, though there is a Bible that consists of 66 books, and traditions that have been around for a long time, no one is perfect and no one is unable to approach God. Everyone is at a different level. There is no shame in speaking to God in a dirty, torn shirt. There is no shame in coming to God despite the fact that you haven’t memorized the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed, or because you missed last week’s church service or haven’t attended once.
The part of the lyrics that really stayed with me was that we “don’t have to be afraid.” Fear not. I love to slip that in everywhere. There’s a reason for it though. Too many times we get fearful. We worry. We doubt. Then Satan comes around the corner and creates some way to sneak through the cracks of our armor. Did you ever do a search and see how many times “fear not” or similar wording is found in the Bible? I can’t be certain, but when I did a search of it being exactly spelled out as “fear not,” Biblos.com came up with over a hundred mentions. This is not including different word usages and phrases that mean the same thing.
Why do we see so many “do not be afraid” and “fear not” phrases? Is it possible that God wants us to understand that we should not be afraid? That we have nothing to fear? That Satan has already been defeated? Fear not, be not afraid. You are “forever” in God’s hands– there is no better place to be.