One phrase that is hurtful to anyone is “I hate you.” This morning I saw a little boy shopping with his mother. She was looking for cough medicine and after finding the bottle she wanted, her son said, “That’s mine.” She said “no” to him and then his response was loud. He yelled, “I hate you.” It hurt me hearing it and it was not even directed my way.
The boy was asking for adult cough medicine which was not his and could have actually killed him if consumed. Kids go through the “it’s mine” phase. Perhaps the kid just wanted to hold the bottle and it was simply a matter of having something to claim. But we see this every day. We see this same scenario played over and over again, not in a grocery store and not over a bottle of cough syrup. We say to God, “that’s mine.” That can be seen as an “I hate you” to a degree. Some people even go as far as to say that as well.
Today’s culture is all about having everything. We are taught that we deserve everything. We are entitled to everything. We can have whatever we want. If it isn’t given to us, we can take it. We are owed it. We even go as far as to think that God owes us. Why should we give our lives to Him? He should just fulfill my long grocery list prayer and be the God I want Him to be because I am entitled. It is sad. I thought of all of this when I saw this mother getting yelled at by her son. The mother said to the boy, “well I love you.” We may feel entitled. We may live for ourselves. We may even turn our backs on our loving Father. But still, He loves us. We are not entitled. But we are loved and we are shown grace that we surely do not deserve. Thank God today. Thank Him for His love and His forgiveness. Remember, you are not entitled to anything and nothing belongs to you.
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – James 4:1-8 [ESV]
This morning I gave my dog a bone and I found that rather than eating it, he took it over to his special area of the room and lined it up with a few other bones he had collected. If he could talk, I think he would have been boastful of his nice collection. Of course, what is the purpose of having a collection of bones that doesn’t get eaten? Pardon my harshness, but I’m not fond of collections. I do not think God wants us building up big collections of items. In the Bible there are times when there are reminders that will be used to keep God’s people focused on God. Some manna is saved in a jar. Some stones are piled up. I get this. All of this saving and collecting involved God.
There is nothing wrong with saving money and being a good steward, but a problem occurs if the money becomes a god and a reason for living. I think of the character of Uncle Scrooge, counting coins as the poor families struggle. There is nothing wrong with collecting some mementos from the past, but to live in the past can prohibit you from reaching where God wants you to be in life. There is nothing wrong with having a few porcelain dolls or baseball cards, but when it encompasses much of your time and much of your attention, where is God’s glory? Where is God’s time?
My dog was collecting bones. When we think of bones, we usually think of something that is dead. It reminds me of these collections that we have here on earth. Our life here is temporal, and each collection is simply as collecting bones. It is so much better to taste what the Lord has given, say that “it is good,” and enjoy a relationship with Him, than to collect things that He created to build up a temporal kingdom here. What He has for us is so much better than we have seen with our eyes or felt with our hands here on earth.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” – Matthew 6:19
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1
At some point in life we begin to question if we are making an impact in the lives of others. We go through periods where we doubt or wonder if we are making a difference at all. The problem is that with having such a huge social media network and newspapers and television programs all over the globe, we see others that are doing such grand things and we might not be building a children’s hospital in a third world country or speaking about Jesus at a large conference in a huge stadium.
We need to be mindful of the fact that every single thing that we do for the Lord, whether it is something our human minds see as large or small, to God, it is a great thing. I do not see anywhere in the Bible where it says that God will rate what we do on the attention it gets on the 6 o’clock news or the grand nature of a project. Every single thing that God calls us to do matters to God—it’s not about the job itself but the heart of the person doing the job. Being fruitful can result from being a door holder to a housekeeper to a pastor to a truck driver who shares the Gospel along his route.
On a recent trip, I was waiting in line to use the restroom when I got in a conversation with a lady waiting in line behind me. We did not say much but we shared for a bit. The conversation lasted only a few minutes. Two hours later, we arrive at our hotel and checked into our room. As we begin unloading the car, the same lady I spoke with earlier was outside in the parking lot asking me if I was following her because both our families ended up at the same hotel hours later. I’m not sure why God had us meet up again but I’m sure He had a good reason. But I do know that she likely would not have remembered me if I would have kept facing front, not said hello, and walked out like I was never there at that gas station.
Today I challenge you to connect with people. Don’t walk through the grocery store while on your cell phone. If you are doing business with a bank teller or a cashier, smile and address them by their name. If you are taking your dog for a walk, say “hello” to those you pass. With these simple gestures, we can share Christ. Remember that God uses everything you give Him.
Don’t forget that you are part of “a chosen people.” You are special to God and if you give Him something, He will take it and use it for His glory.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9
This weekend I had the opportunity to teach two classes, one on trusting God and another on the power of God. These two topics are so vital to each of our lives, and yet we all have some difficulties in these areas. Recently, the husband of a friend of mine was in dire need of a liver transplant. With a congenital liver disease weakening his body, many people would have considered that hope was lost. Family and friends joined together in prayer. The Bible says that we must ask and believe, and then we will receive (Mark 11:24, James 1:6). The family organized a group, continued to stand firm in their faith, and clung to God during the storm. As family and friends trusted God, uniting together in prayer, they were able to see the power of God at work. He received a new liver and doctors were amazed at the miraculous transition they witnessed, something that couldn’t be explained except as the power of God.
These people trusted God to provide, but we all have moments when we have a problem with trusting God. To trust God, it means that we abide and rest in His goodness—that we trust that He protects, embraces, and surrounds us with His compassion and His favor. It is important to understand that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). It is important to remember the many promises of God—promises we can only know about if we read His Word. Psalm 34:10 says that those who seek God will “lack no good thing.” Yet, why are we so tempted to seek elsewhere, to try our own methods, to think that we could have something better doing things another way?
In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted three times. Each of these temptations represents temptations that we each face, temptations of: power, prestige, and possessions. Each time, He responded to the devil by saying, “It is written.” It is so clear to see the power of God’s Word at work. In Ephesians 6, we are told to stand firm and put on our spiritual armor, which includes the “sword of the Spirit, which is word of God” (v. 17). Do you have your armor on? Are you daily arming yourself with this sword? See each of us has the ability to tap into the power of God. We have His Word. We as believers have His Spirit. Yet it is apparent that so many people do not use what is right before them.
Is it a trust issue? Do we not trust the character and promises of God? Do we think we know better? Do we not have the time to read God’s Word? Do we believe we are fine as we are? There are so many possibilities, but each answer is simply an excuse—an excuse to not accept the love, grace, mercy, protection, favor, direction, comfort, and will of God. As we make these excuses, complaints and grumbling follow. When will we get it? When will we reach forward to the hand that God extends to us?
I told my students this weekend that we must not simply remember “it is written,” but we must also remember another short and powerful statement made by our Lord and Savior. We must remember “it is finished.” We have victory thru Christ, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). We need to live right now as if we have this victory. We need to stop allowing the world to get the best of us, and cling to this victory that we already have in Christ. We need to trust Him and trust in this victory. In doing so, we would live very differently. We need to learn not only to trust God’s character and the promises in His Word, but also to live by them each day of our lives. As Burl Ives sang, “O victory in Jesus, My Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.” The song goes on to speak of singing a song of victory one day in heaven, but I think we should start singing this song today, as we trust God, as we cling to Him and His Word, as we hold tight to the power of God. Surely, we have victory. Let us trust in Him and open our eyes to His power which is at work even today.
Everyday is filled with choices. When we wake up in the morning, we choose what clothing we will wear. We choose what breakfast we want to eat. We have so many choices that we make all day long. The Bible says that God chose us. We are His chosen people. Colossians 3 says that we “have been chosen of God, holy and beloved.” In 1 Peter 2, it says, “you are A CHOSEN RACE, a royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION” (v. 9). So we are chosen. But it doesn’t end there. We must make a choice too. Now most people think our choice is to simply accept Christ, know and believe John 3:16, and we have done what was necessary.
It is important that we take the first step, pray to God and accept Jesus into our hearts. At the same time, it doesn’t end there. Each day we have a choice. Each day we are met with different options, difficult situations, and everything requires a choice to be made. You might not believe it, but even how you eat makes a statement. Are you eating properly and taking care of the body you were given, or are you just eating whatever comes your way?
Moses made a choice, a choice that some people would find difficulty in making considering his situation. He was at the very top, the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter. Imagine being in such a high position. Even so, he stepped down and assumed the role God had for him. It was a greater role, but it was a hard path to take in life. He endured hardship, pain, suffering. It wasn’t the life that he could have lived had he not made the choice to follow God’s will.
Jesus also left His high position, was born as a vulnerable baby in poor conditions. He endured all of the world‘s sin out of love for His Father and to submit to the will of God. God made this great choice so that we could have life once again with Him. We may not have the strong faith like Moses. We may not see the value of each choice we make; however, the choices are there. Today, make the choice to live intentionally. Be intentional when you make decisions. You have the freedom of choice, such power to decide. Each decision has an outcome. Seek out God’s will and ask the Holy Spirit to help you be intentional with your choices. In doing so, you will see what a difference choices can make in life.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.” – Hebrews 11:24-26 [NASB]
“So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
– Psalm 90:12 [NASB]
My Biggest Fan
When my son was playing baseball for the local little league team, I was really upset seeing this one boy who never had his parents sitting in the bleachers to cheer him on. Strangely enough, he wasn’t an orphaned child; his parents always dropped him off and left the park to have their “me time.” I understand we all need to have time alone; however, it’s important to always be supportive of our children in their many endeavors.
As a little girl, I remember bringing my report card home with what I would consider good grades. I also recall the look that appeared when that A- was spotted and then the “is this the best you could do” question followed. It really hurt. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Sadly I know I was not the only person to experience this type of situation, which certainly does not give one’s self esteem a boost.
Even so there is this Fan that we have out there rooting us on. We have someone who is always sitting on the bleachers, always waving the poster board cheering for us. Sometimes we don’t hear the cheers because so many around us ignore our special gifts. At times we understand that the Fan is there, but we don’t feel like we are deserving of the attention and the love.
Our biggest fan is God. He is our amazing Creator and He takes pride in His creation. He formed each one of us and He knows us better than anyone can ever know us. He treats each of us like His only child. Every time we step up to bat and we swing, He cheers. It doesn’t matter if we hit the ball, simply that we swing. He takes pride seeing us grow and be happy. He never takes His eyes off of us and we are never out of His reach. He never leaves to have “me time.” God loves you and He is your biggest fan always.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” – Jeremiah 31:3b [NIV]