How is your spiritual vision
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NASB) As a follower of Jesus how do you see those around you? As my eyes have gotten weaker, my spiritual vision has gotten clearer. I can honestly say I no longer see color or race any more. I see people of different shapes, sizes, customs, traditions, habits and languages. I see men and women, young and old with a common human experience. When you peel away our outer skin and look inside, we are ALL the same. We talk, laugh, cry, love, work, struggle and hope for a better life.
Paul reminds us that as Christians, we are ALL one in Christ Jesus. Through faith, we are ALL the same; we are cherished Sons and Daughters of the living God. We must all learn to see fellow Christians as family members in the body of Christ. It’s time that we come to understand we are ALL on the same journey.
Why do we compare, evaluate and judge? Why do we criticize and condemn? Why do we act as if we are better than our neighbor? At times, we all have: (1) been prideful, rebellious, and disobedient (2) chosen to go our own way (3) pretended we did not hear God calling or argued with Him (4) acted like spoiled little children (5) been selfish and self-centered (6) failed to remember when He made a way when we were in a ditch (7) felt fear, doubt and unbelief (8) cried out to God being tired of waiting and resorted to self-effort.
Friends, I praise God every day that Jesus died on the cross so we can have a new life filled with God’s love, mercy and grace. The blood of Jesus reconciled ALL of us to Him. His blood washed ALL of us clean from the filth and stench of sin. By faith in Jesus alone, we have ALL received gifts of mercy and grace which enable us to see others as brothers and sisters in Christ and say “We are all one in Him.” Lord, we thank you for your life-changing mercy and grace and we pray for all those whose vision is still distorted!
Grace and peace always,
Nothing Can Separate Us From God’s Love
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38 NLT
This closing passage of Romans 8 contains some of the best news you and I will ever hear: “Nothing can separate us from God’s love.” Nothing! This is the rock upon which to build our lives. It will keep us steady in times such as these. It will reassure us when we are fearful. It will refresh us when we are weary.
Paul recognizes that we may be tempted to think God no longer loves us when we face difficult times. In verse 35 he asks, “Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” The answer is “No.” Though we will suffer in this life (Romans 8 has already dealt honestly with this fact) that does not mean God doesn’t love us.
How can we be certain of God’s love for us in times like these when we’re tempted to doubt? The last phrase of Romans 8 provides that answer. God’s perfect love for us “is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As we learn earlier in Romans, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Rom. 5:8). If ever we come to doubt God’s love us, just look to the cross. There on the cross we see the love of God poured out, a love not just for humankind in general, but for us in particular.
With God’s love, we are empowered to live boldly and share that love with others. We are inspired to take risks for the sake of the kingdom, knowing that whether we succeed or fail, God’s love for us is constant in our lives. His love endures forever and His mercies are renewed each morning, trust in the Lord!
Grace and peace always,
Is there something your wrestling with today that seems overwhelming? Is there a decision looming before you that requires you to believe that God is faithful to provide? If so, take your uncertainty to God. “Lord I don’t know what to do, what if I’m wrong or fail? Lord help me!” The father of a sick child went to Jesus and said, Lord help us if YOU can? “If you can?” said Jesus. Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24 NIV)
When you doubt God’s trustworthiness, unbelief becomes a gap in your spiritual armor and it’s in that gap that Satan wants to attack you. You soon begin to doubt other attributes of God’s character, such as His goodness, soon distrust and unbelief become baggage that will weigh you down in every area of life.
You might feel that you don’t have enough faith to trust and obey, but the Lord isn’t asking you to trust in favorable circumstances. The Lord is asking you to simply believe, that He is who He says He is, always!
It’s easy to doubt God when you’re focused on the obstacles standing before you, but when you fix your eyes on Jesus and believe what Scripture says about His faithfulness, then you can do anything. No matter what lies before you, remember that God brought you to it and He will see you through it. He is faithful! You can find strength in your dependence on Him, whether you’re in a deluge of trials or a flood of blessings.
It’s actually when life gets challenging that you’ll recognize the reality and sweetness of God’s faithfulness. When you learn to face life’s challenges and storms in complete reliance in His strength, your trust in His character will become part of who you are and it will provide you strength from within. Trust in the Lord, He will never leave or forsake you.
Grace and peace always,
Be An Overcomer!
There are few guarantees in this life, but one of them we can all expect is trouble. It may creep up on us slowly, or blindside us when we least expect it. Either way, when it reaches us, it causes fear, pain, and heartache. We sometimes have to make hard decisions, often without all the answers to our questions.
Discouragement and fear of the unknown knocks on our doors, wanting to come in and stay awhile, but we must never let them in! Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Although trouble and disappointment can be expected in this world, discouragement is a choice. Whatever the hardship, there is always one overarching choice we all must make, to move toward God or away from Him. There is no standing still. There is no neutral option. Adversity and troubles will often cause our path to split before us and we will either walk with our Lord Jesus or turn down a lonely road without Him.
Walking with the Lord doesn’t always look pretty either. At times, it may look like temporarily unleashing our anger and frustration on Him. At times we may cry out, beg, barter in desperation or be left with no words at all. But we must always walk with Him! We must acknowledge that the Lord gives and takes away. That He alone is still Lord above all and if anyone can redeem us or our situation, it is He alone!
Always remember that we have a loving God! Turning away from Him in times of trouble is to deny Him what is rightfully His, which only adds to our hardship when we choose to walk alone without hope. Walk with Jesus, the one who has overcome the world. He alone enables us to overcome in this life! Only He can make something good from our troubles, and He alone promises to be with us to the end of the ages.
Grace and peace always,
Start with Your Heart
Any form of prejudice is a serious sin and it’s not an infraction that God looks at lightly. To call it anything but sin would be against what the Bible teaches: “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin (James 2:8-9 NLT).
That’s pretty clear. I’ve come to the conclusion that prejudice; particularly racial prejudice may be the world’s most prevalent sin. No matter where you go in the world, somebody doesn’t like somebody else. You find it everywhere. And though it plays out in countless ways in our world most people would deny that they have any prejudice toward others. For us to move toward racial reconciliation, we must first admit and confess our prejudices. Why? Because racism is a sin problem, not a skin problem. This is not a minor issue to God. It’s at the heart of the Gospel!
Like many, you may have been raised to mistrust or stay away from what’s different. The fact is we all feel most comfortable with people like ourselves. That’s human nature. But as Christians we are new creations and we must learn to see people the way God does. How do you learn to see everybody who comes into your life the way God does? “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). You have got to look at the heart. If we ever want to know someone’s heart, we must get past casual pleasantries and shallow conversations. We have to get to know them on a much deeper level. We need to ask questions and be a good listener. We must be empathetic and must always error on the side of grace.
We must always start with our own hearts. Confess our own prejudice! Then pray for God to help us see people as he sees them and to use us to help reconcile people to each other and most importantly, to him!
Grace and peace always,
Our God Is Always in Control
We often struggle to understand why bad things happen. Even so, I believe that God has a purpose for everything He does or permits. My belief is rooted in the biblical principle that says the Lord is sovereign (Ps. 22:28). That he is in control of this universe and everything single thing that ever happens in our lives.
When we are in the midst of a storm or one of life’s hardships it is difficult to resist crying out, “God, why is this happening?” Sometimes we get the answer, most times we don’t! But what we can be sure of is that nothing happens by accident or coincidence. God has a purpose for even our most painful experiences. Moreover, He promises to “cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him” (Rom. 8:28).
Knowing in advance how the Lord will work evil or hurt for our benefit is very difficult, if not impossible. Our limited human perspective doesn’t allow us to grasp His greater plan. However, I can confirm the truth of this biblical promise. I have personally experienced God’s blessings and benefits from my darkest hours.
As believers, we must accept that God won’t always make sense to us. Isaiah teaches that “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). God always sees the beautifully completed big picture. We can rely on the fact, that He is in control, no matter how wildly off-kilter our lives or this world may get. So do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD our God will be us wherever we go.
Peace of the Lord be with you!
Trusting in the Lord!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
If the future feels uncertain right now, and worry is occupying your heart and your mind, remember this: God is already in all of our tomorrows. He knows our way, and He has a plan! And we can be assured it's always the best one for us. He never asks us to figure it all out on our own. He just asks us to trust Him, to recognize His leadership and Sovereignty in our lives. And He promises to make our pathways straight.
Trust (be confident in, be bold, be secure) in the Lord with all your heart (seat of emotions, inclinations, mind, soul), and do not lean (trust, depend) on your own understanding (discernment). In all your ways acknowledge Him (know, recognize), and He will make your paths straight (pleasing, right, smooth)." Friends, this is the foundational life verse for every uncertainty we will ever face in our lives!
We may not always see what's ahead, but He does and there’s great power in trusting Him. It clears the way for our security to be based solely on Him, not on our circumstances, or other people, not on ourselves, or our own ways of thinking. God, is faithful to lead us and He sees the big picture. He brings clarity and light through foggy times. He knows what’s around the other side of the bend where we can’t fully see. His timing is perfect even when we start to feel like we’ve been forgotten. No matter how we feel or what our current situation may be, we can be confident that God’s Presence will go before us, paving out pathways, guiding and guarding each and every step.
Trust in the Lord, He will never leave or forsake us!
Finding Calm in the Storm
We live in a fallen world filled with sin and all forms of evil, yet so often we put on rose-colored glasses and expect our lives to be full of comfort, ease, and pleasure. And then when storms come upon us, bringing disruption, trouble, conflict, and heartache, we start wondering where the Lord is. After all, we are believers in Jesus Christ, and God is our loving heavenly Father. So why is He letting this happen?
The disciples would have preferred smooth sailing too, across the Sea of Galilee. But in the storm, they saw Jesus in a new way. After He calmed the waves with His words, they asked in amazement, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matt. 8:27). Through that storm, they recognized Jesus as almighty God, who has power even over the physical laws of the universe. His purpose was not to drown them but to show them His glory.
The same is true of us. Storms in our life are opportunities to see the Lord in a new light and in a magnified way. It’s in our extreme need that we begin to see we have too small a view of God. We must be careful not to reduce Him to a doting Father who winks at our sin and just wants us happy, healthy, and wealthy.
Perhaps you are going through a personal storm of some kind right now. If so, ask the Lord to open your eyes to a greater understanding of Him. Even if your circumstances don’t change, you can change! Jesus Christ is the Lord of peace, and He can calm the storm within and bring you comfort even when the storms of life are still raging around you.
Grace and peace always,
Praying for Unity
Jesus said, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me”. John 17:20-21
These words were prayed by Jesus the last night of his life. He had just gathered his disciples at the Last Supper, washed their feet, told them of the events that were about to unfold, commanded them to love one another and then he prayed for them. Notice, that he is praying not only for “them” his disciples, but also for those who would believe in him through their word.
This hope filled message reaches beyond those who walked the earth with his disciples. This message of hope is for all of us trying to make sense out of the events occurring in our world today. Jesus was asking for our unity, that we might all be one in him. That was no easy task for the followers in the early church and it is still a daunting task for US today. Our interconnected world today is full of people of vast diversity, people from different cultures, different backgrounds, different ideas of what God is calling them to do.
Was Jesus asking us to put down what makes each of us so unique or to agree on every issue? No! His Priestly Prayer for unity is a call for us to work to find ways to build bridges, to come together, to love one another in spite of our differences. Perhaps we should begin this enormous task by reaching out and loving those around us. Often that task must begin with repentance, with peace, with forgiveness, and with loving kindness in our hearts that grows out from us in ever-expanding circles. I can’t help but think that is what God wants for us and what Jesus was praying would happen today. Friends, change must always begin within! Jesus prayed for our unity and died to make it possible. Let us pray for God to make us ALL agents of change!
Grace and peace always,
The Secret to Peace
Philippians 4:12, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” I’m drawn to Paul’s powerful testimony here. He says that he has “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” The secret Paul refers to is having peace, joy, and contentment that is independent of your circumstances. Paul learned how to hold onto his peace. Every day we have the option to choose how we will respond to any and every situation in our lives. We are free to choose joy or sadness, anger or acceptance, fear or courage, hope or despair. Paul encourages us to choose peace in spite of our circumstances.
Looking back on my life, I see that I spent decades in a state of “emotional highjack” controlled or led by my emotions. I allowed my circumstances to determine my mood, thoughts, actions, and decisions. I give God thanks and praise that the Holy Spirit has shared Paul’s secret with me. As I have grown spiritually it has become easier to control my emotions, to set my mind, heart, and spirit on God’s Word, His promises, and to live by faith. I have learned to look beyond immediate situations and say, “I don’t care what it looks like, I refuse to walk in fear, doubt, and unbelief.” I’ve learned to encourage myself by going deeper into God’s Word. I’ve resolved that I will not be moved by the way things appear. In the midst of trial, I call forth Gods presence and divine intervention and give Him thanks for promising to never leave or forsake us.
Are you struggling with your circumstances? Are you allowing your emotions to lead you to a place where you begin to doubt God’s Word and His promises? Do you believe the facts of your situation more than you believe God’s Word? I encourage you to trust God and His grace. Hold onto your peace, joy, and contentment no matter what happens! Lord, thank you for your grace that sustains us each day. Jesus, your love and grace hold the secret of peace, let us trust in you and hold fast to our peace, joy, and contentment no matter what.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding be with you always!