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]
March 7. Here it is again. I am sure I am not the only one with a day. A day is only a day in your eyes. As the world sees the day, it is very different from your vantagepoint. A day is filled with scars, with unanswered questions, with tragedy, with depth, with decisions, with memories that don’t quite add up. Today is my day.
When this day first became my day, it was a moment when my life forever changed. I had such dreams of what could be in my life; however, I found that life isn’t a Hallmark movie and what I had hoped would be my prayers answered and my white picket fence and my happily ever after became something different—something raw, uncontrollable, unsatisfactory to my plans. It was a day that began a long journey trying to process what was truth, what was the new normal, and what fears needed to be overcome to navigate the new waters. It took years to heal many of the scars, some of which went unnoticed for a long period of time. It required me to let God into the broken areas, to freely move, to reveal to me things I never wanted to see—so that He could repair—so that He could make new.
This was 2004. Every year since, I have celebrated this day. I rejoiced this day not because of what was lost and because of what I so desperately wanted to be truth back then. I rejoiced this day not because I lost my white picket fence and had to face reality. I rejoice because through the years I have been blessed to see God move again and again for my family. I have seen Him move mountains in my life. I have seen Him part waters when there was not a way to pass. He has provided me strength, comfort, and He has protected and provided for my family at every turn.
Today it was hard to celebrate. As I drove to the office knowing that this day was again another end to a season, I cried out the Lord. The brokenness and heartache that I felt back in 2004, has long since faded. I am not that same person. And the pain I felt that day is very different than the pain of today. It was strange as I was on my morning drive to consider that God knew even back in 2004, what would happen today. He knew when I was putting my hand to the plow, that this day would come.
But this day was different. In 2004, I didn’t have a real choice of anything. I had to get up off the floor, dust myself off, and press onward. It was either that or wallow for a time. But this day was a choice, a step forward that I have taken even knowing some of the brokenness that would follow. Sometimes we can see truth and we know it is truth, but we don’t want to receive it and be bold in faith. Sometimes we see truth but ask why God won’t change things so the truth could be different. Sometimes we are faced with the option of trusting God, stepping forward, letting go, and trusting that out of the brokenness He is still making all things new.
As I neared the office, and continued to seek comfort in Him, knowing that after today, so much of what was a huge part of my life is going to be changed, even seeing glimpses of those changes these past few weeks, Lauren Daigle’s song “Trust in You,” began to play. The lyrics reminded me of the battles over the years, reminded me of how things often make little sense when I’m faced with a road to take. It was in that car ride to work that I could continue to do what I’ve done each year on March 7th—celebrate Him! Not everyone will understand what I feel on this day. Not everyone will know all the hours of prayer leading up to this day. Not everyone will be excited for this day.
Even still, I rejoice. I rejoice in knowing that God is still God. I rejoice in knowing that He has a great plan, beautifully orchestrated. I rejoice in knowing that He is still Lord of my life, my Savior and King. I rejoice in knowing that He will still see me through these murky waters. Long ago, He gave me this calling to preach His Word. Following in faithful obedience to this calling led me up to this very day, and this very decision. As 1 Timothy 4:16 says, I must keep watch on my life and keep watch on my teaching and then in doing these things, may the hearers be saved. May I continue to be faithful to His calling upon my life. The Word will go out as He leads!
As this day, March 7thslowly ends, I question my verse for this season. The verse, 1 Chronicles 4:10, speaks of blessing and enlarging the ministry—praying that there would be no pain or harm allowed. None of these words make sense to me today. This doesn’t seem like the season I’m currently navigating; it seems like polar opposite. But so often, we do not know what He has planned. That is why it is called faith.
This is not a devotion. This is not a sermon. This is not a Bible study. This is not a poem. This is my day. This is my heart. This is my reality. May this testimony point to the One who is greater than I, to a Father who has never left my side, a Savior who paid something I could never pay, the Spirit who continues to reveal to me that I have a lot of growing yet needed.
Look to Him. Draw near to Him and watch how everything changes!
This morning in my pre-coffee daze, I neglected to grab my dual leash for my dogs. Instead, I grabbed them each their separate personal leashes and got them ready for their morning walk. I always use the dual leash for walks; if you ever tried to walk two dogs without one, you’d easily figure out why it is nice to have a dual leash. No tangles. No tripping. Smooth sailing with the canines and God.
As I walked to the next block, I realized that I had forgotten the dual leash, but I also realized that the dogs were still walking as if they were using the dual leash. In using the dual leash for years, they developed a habit. They were trained. The dogs knew the path to walk. They knew their limitations. They knew the distances they needed to be located. They had it all memorized. It became a way of life.
In this same way, as we continue to drown ourselves in the Word of God and aim to live it out, we find ourselves not having to think so much on some things. It becomes second nature. Spending time daily in the Word helps us navigate our day better understanding true obedience and better discerning the will of God.
Continue to add more time with God and His Word as you go through the week. Start a YouVersion reading plan. Pick up a daily devotion book. Download the Dwell app. Do whatever works for you to hear and read more of God’s Word. Take small bites. Enjoy big feasts. Remember, God’s Word always produces fruit.
“It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” – Isaiah 55:11 [NLT]
We live in a broken world, a world filled with pain and suffering and things that are not right. From the very beginning, when God created the world, He foreknew that sin would enter the world. He knew that brokenness would be a way of life for us. He knew that nothing could be done to save the brokenness without Him moving in a mighty way.
God sent His one and only Son to save us, to redeem us, to pay a price we could not pay. He reached out to restore us and bring us back into a relationship with Him. Every day we have the opportunity to enjoy a relationship with our heavenly Father. Because Jesus suffered the wrath that was to be our punishment, we can enjoy His “wrap-around presence.” This is because God has stooped down to us to bring us back into His holy presence.
When the world is beating you down, when you are lost in your brokenness, be reminded of the stooping down gentleness of God. Who am I that He would even consider me? Yet, our God moves through the brokenness with gentleness. He does not attack our brokenness, but beautifully works through it and makes us new. Strange enough, when we take something broken and try to repair it, the end result is never something better. Superglue and duct tape only go so far. But we serve a God of the impossible. With God, we are a masterpiece. He makes us great—better than we ever were. With Him moving through us, navigating through the brokenness, each day we are made more into the image of His Son. All because He has stooped down in gentleness.
“You empower me for victory with your wrap-around presence. Your power within makes me strong to subdue, and by stooping down in gentleness you strengthened me and made me great!” – Psalm 18:35 [TPT]
Life is uncertain. It seems that at the moment you think you have everything together, something else is just around the corner to show you otherwise. You may plan for a “good day” but other things come up. You may think work is going well, your relationships are solid, finances are good, and one thing happens to change your situation. Life is comprised of seasons. Every day brings changes. Some you celebrate; some you grieve. Thankfully all is in God’s hands.
He is a forever firm fortress. May you declare Him your forever firm fortress. While the world is spinning out of control, while people come and go, while nothing seems solid, we can rest in knowing that He is a bedrock. He is a firm fortress. He is a mountain, a pathway, a tower. No matter what comes your way, when you are in His hands, you are safe and secure. In His hands, in His refuge, He is your secret strength and your shield.
No matter what comes your way today, remember that God, the Creator of all, the Maker of heaven and earth, is the champion of your cause. He is your forever firm fortress. There is no better place to be than in His embrace.
“You’re as real to me as bedrock beneath my feet, like a castle on a cliff, my forever firm fortress, my mountain of hiding, my pathway of escape, my tower of rescue where none can reach me. My secret strength and shield around me, you are salvation’s ray of brightness shining on the hillside, always the champion of my cause.” – Psalm 18:2 [TPT]
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.
2 Timothy 3:1-4 English Standard Version (ESV)
3 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,
4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
chrésteuomai: to be kind
Phonetic Spelling: (khraste-yoo’-om-ahee)
Definition: to be kind
Usage: I am kind (full of service to others), gentle.
Kindness is an inner quality (ATTITUDE) of compassion, being gentle… caring
Kindness results in goodness (ACTIONS)… serving one another, being generous… doing something because you care
chréstotés: goodness, excellence, uprightness
Phonetic Spelling: (khray-stot’-ace)
Definition: goodness, excellence, uprightness
Usage: goodness, uprightness, kindness, gentleness.
Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Luke 6:35-36 English Standard Version (ESV)
35 But love your enemies,
and do good,
To do that which is good
To do something which profits others
To do someone a favor
To do what is right
To be generous
expecting nothing in return,
and your reward will be great,
and you will be sons of the Most High,
for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Make Room for the King
“Joy to the World”
Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
OUR HEART NATURALLY DOESN’T WANT TO PREPARE ROOM
WE ARE ALL SINNERS… WE ARE ALL IN NEED OF JESUS
Ezekiel 11:19 English Standard Version (ESV)
19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.
WHEN JESUS WAS BORN, THERE WASN’T ANY ROOM
Luke 2:7 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there wasn’t any room for them in the inn.
THE SHUNAMMITE WHO MADE ROOM
2 Kings 4:8-9 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. 9 And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. 10 Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.”
THE GREAT PROMISE OF GOD
Jeremiah 24:7 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
How can we prepare Him room?
#1 Accept the love God offers
John 3:16 English Standard Version (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
#2 Draw near to Jesus through prayer and reading of God’s Word
James 4:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
#3 Honor Jesus with obedience
2 John 6 English Standard Version (ESV)
6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
2 John 6 The Message (MSG)
4-6 I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father. But permit me a reminder, friends, and this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of our original and basic charter: that we love each other. Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first thing you heard, and nothing has changed.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room