WHY DOES GOD LOVE ME?
I am in awe as I wonder why God decided to love me. What could I offer Him that He does not already have? Who am I, that the Almighty would call me to encourage His people? This is a mystery that I will never understand. Who can fathom love?
“I (the LORD) will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Exodus 33:19)
This passage means that God chooses whomever He wants. Since we cannot comprehend His mind, we will never understand why we are chosen to belong to Him. Simply, god’s ways are vastly superior to ours. We are blessed that He loves us.
A poet once said that ‘true love is blind’. Sometimes, I think that it is deaf, dumb, and crazy as well. I may not know why God loves me, but I am certainly not going to try to talk Him out of it. Instead, I choose to walk by faith and bask in the warmth of His perfect love.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;2 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.3 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
Spend time each day celebrating the Love of God, forgiveness of sins, and His incredible compassion. We are His special creation. He heals our wounded souls. The love of God may transcend our understanding, but it is wonderful.
WHAT BREAKS YOUR HEART?
Hillsong’s “Hosana” has a line in the bridge that is exceptional. Through the prayer of this song, the writer seeks to know what breaks God’s heart. We often tell God about our problems; however, it is uncommon to ask Him about His. Further, the songwriter asks God to break his heart with the same things tjat trouble the Lord’s. This is a priceless spiritual gem.
I have been asking my friends to pray this prayer with me. The answers have been amazing. Our passion for souls is increasing exponentially. Moreover, concern for the North American church has been weighing on my heart. In many ways, I see parallels to the church in Laodicea.
To the Church in Laodicea
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
Here is the difficult part. What am I going to do with the compassion for the lost and for our churches? My prayers have shifted into a new mode by asking God to download the spiritual plan for a national revival. I know that I am just one small voice, but mighty ships are turned with a little rudder.
New International Version
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Much of our new furniture is made from particleboard with a thin plastic cover. As the furniture wears, the simulated wood lamination begins to peel back to expose the ugly particleboard beneath it. Little can be done to this type of material since its foundation is only pressed sawdust. It may appear as cherry wood, but it is only a simulation.
In contrast, furniture made from actual wood can be quite stunning when properly refinished. Often, it is not cost effective. There are no shortcuts to the noisy smelly, messy, and laborious process.
Yet, there is a tremendous joy that comes from seeing something that looked worthless spring to new life. The scratches, stains and cracks all disappear in the hands of a skilled carpenter.
God is in the restoration business. Sin destroys our lives like rht of the furniture. At our very core is pressed sawdust. In short, we are in desperate need of a miracle. Who can restore us when there is nothing good within our very core? Our hearts are sick, twisted, and perverse. Amazingly, God can transform sawdust into fine wood.
Ezekiel 36:24-28 24“‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. (NIV)
Israel has been restored by God countless times. We are so blessed to see this miracle occurring again in our own lifetime. Because of God’s great compassion, Jacob’s offspring is being gathered from all the nations on Earth. What a loving Carpenter we serve!
This miracle of restoration is not for Israel alone. Through the blood of Jesus all are welcome to the Carpenter’s home.
“Jesus love Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” (John 11:5 NIV)
She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:39-42 NIV)
How does Martha’s actions demonstrate duty? She has a strong drive for protocol, (doing what she thinks is right) or hospitality (welcoming). In contrast, Mary ignores the “dishes and such” and pays attention to Jesus.
Jesus’ words comforting Mary are very sweet. God has given us freedom. What a clear confidence of love.
Lord, help us to keep our priorities in order. We need to be focused upon You rather than the mission. Ministry has its place, but You are far more important. We openly confess that our time with You is often distracted. Jesus, You are the greatest teacher. We love You and our service duty is to You – not the mission. Help us to remember that. Amen!
TOOLS FOR GROWTH AS WARRIORS FOR CHRIST
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on. however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen you feeble arms and weak knees (Hebrews 12:11-12)
One of the greatest struggles in life occurs when we mature through our teenage years. We are both children and adults at the same time. At other times we are neither juvenile nor mature. We are in a state of transition. Our maturity in faith also has the difficult teenage years.
When we first start following Jesus everything is wonderful. We are innocent, excited, and positively in love with our Savior. Each time God asks us to do something, we are more than willing to please Him. We can’t wait to worship Him each day.
Unfortunately, there is a long developmental stage between new believer and mature disciple. During this season, we are smart enough to be very dangerous with the things of faith. We easily discover the mistakes of others. Often, we are quick to spot when our leaders fall short in ministry. In this transition, there are seasons of being judgmental proud, fearless, fearful, opinionated, and downright ornery! God is more than patient as we grow through this stage.
God takes the teenage warrior into His crucibles of discipleship where all of these imperfections are addressed. During these days, sometimes we wonder what happened to the sweet Lord that we first fell in love with. In order to complete the discipleship process, we must endure through some very uncomfortable situations. Some of us wonder – and honestly so – if there will be anything in our lives that is not destroyed in God’s kiln. The process is called sanctification, which means being made holy. Just as no one likes to drink from a filthy cup, we are not ready for the Master’s perfect plans until we have been purified.
So, never walk away from a crucible. We cannot walk back into it when we think that we are ready. In all cases, the Master has a plan for our perfect release. If we leave before the work is completed, we must go through the entire process again.
Next, remember that God loves us and knows what He is doing. Trust in His perfect mercy, grace, and timing through each difficulty. God is just like a skilled dentist who is removing decay from our teeth. We need that which may be harmful to our lives removed for us to be healthy spiritually.
Finally, press on. Many fall apart just a few feet from the finish line. When God is finished, there is a harvest of peace and righteousness. I know that often it hurts, but with faith, we are never without hope. Just a there are no shortcuts to athletic conditioning; God’s discipleship program may be exhausting yet prepares us for what is ahead.
Father, I recognize that You have always loved me. I know that You want what is best for my life. Therefore, I willingly place my life into Your capable hands. Lead me where You want me to go, help me overcome my weaknesses, and let Your Spirit mentor my development. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen!
“He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.” (Psalms 147:9 NIV)
Ravens are amazing birds. They are undaunted by weather, harsh environments, and food supplies. They seem equally pleased with “roadkill” or restaurant dumpsters.
Ravens work diligently to provide for their offspring. They create impressive nests, sit dutifully, and feed the young like most other birds. One day, the parents move on leaving the babies to learn to fly and provide for themselves.
They are more fun to watch than a circus. The young will remain together for several weeks scolding each other. They call to any other bird as if to say, “Where is my dinner?” the other birds evacuate the area with haste.
6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. (Genesis 8:6-9 NIV)
The raven must have provided Noah and the crew entertainment as it unpredictably flew around. In contrast with the dove, it was ill-mannered. The Creator has a wonderful sense of humor.
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
(Luke 12:22-26 NIV)
Our Lord is the best teacher. People struggle with worry. This parable provides hope. We, too, are reliant upon God. Crazy animals and birds help remind us to trust Him.
The ravens live one day at a time. What a sharp contrast with a squirrel which obsessively forages. Imagine this insane rodent with an online trading account!
Father, help us trust You for all material needs. Thanks for Your “Daily Bread.” We celebrate Your glory and humor. We find hope and correction in Jesus’ creative teaching. Further, we confess our anxiety over material needs. Please reassure us today of Your loving forgiveness. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
REFLECTION ON PSALM 99
Psalm 99 New International Version (NIV)
1 The Lord reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
2 Great is the Lord in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.
4 The King is mighty, he loves justice—
you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
what is just and right.
5 Exalt the Lord our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy.
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on the Lord
and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.
8 Lord our God,
you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
though you punished their misdeeds.[a]
9 Exalt the Lord our God
and worship at his holy mountain,
for the Lord our God is holy.
Perhaps no nation trembled before the Lord like Egypt. By the time the plagues were finished, they wanted Israel to take whatever they wanted and leave. No more frogs or flies – just go away! (Sounds like how we feel about the Corona virus).
By the time Israel reached Mount Sinai, the news of Egypt’s demise was well known. The surrounding kingdoms wondered if their gods were powerful enough to fight with a God of slaves who was stronger than any who protected Egypt. No nation, demon, or power can withstand our Holy LORD Almighty!
Moses and Aaron administered God’s perfect Holy Law before His beloved people. Although He loves justice and hates what sin has done, His loving forgiveness is always evident. The King’s wrath is only displayed when people reject, ignore, or fail to appreciate His authority.
Samuel represents the prophets in Psalm 99. They provide information whenever God’s people are in special need. Encouragement, correction, warning, and direction are all part of their assignments.
The beginning and ending of this song poetically connect in thought. We are reminded to worship the Almighty in humility and respect. His authority is unsurpassed. The images of a footstool, cherubim, and holy mountain provide insight into His heavenly throne room. In eternity, ALL injustice, including racial, will be vanquished!
It is much safer to swim in an area where lifeguards are on watch. Although many may attempt to become lifeguards, special training is required. Imagine the foolish of an untrained person attempting to save someone. In lakes, ponds, oceans, pools, and other “swimming holes,’ Qualified personnel are recommended.
“Can a blind man lead a blind man?” Luke 6:39 (NIV)
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
Daily Bible study is needed for our spiritual training. In this manner, we become qualified. For example, what if we were asked how to get to heaven? Life the lifeguard and Timothy, we must be ready. This information is on our new “Need Jesus Page.”
Jesus is our redeeming lifeguard. We can trust Him to always rescue. He is always prepared.
Daily Bible reading is paramount. This is the best textbook. This is why it is called God’s Word.
Luke 24:25-27 New International Version (NIV)
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Psalm 22:1-2 New International Version (NIV)
For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.[b]
Matthew 27:45-46 New International Version (NIV)
The Death of Jesus
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]
Have You ever felt rejected by God or experienced feeling numb from all the suffering? Does it ever seem like the heavens are made of brass? During this season of the pandemic, everyone has probably felt this.
Lamentations 3:17-20 New International Version (NIV)
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Allow me to share this wonderful hope that we have. Because our Lord is Love, I believe that every drop of suffering is not wasted. We are being molded into the image of Jesus. Although all suffer, no pain served a greater purpose. Through His awful/wonderful sacrifice, by faith, we can be emancipated from sin, fear, and hopelessness. It is my prayer that He will show His Reasoning. But even if He does not at this time, I pray we will continue to persevere and cling to Jesus!!
Philippians 1:19-26 New International Version (NIV)
19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[a] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Lamentations 3:21-26 New International Version (NIV)
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
Jeremiah 17:7 New International Version (NIV)
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.