Reality is My Friend
I’ve had lots of friends over the years. Some close, and some not so close. I’ve even made friends of enemies, both real and imagined. But one of the best friends I rarely recognized was a friend called “reality”. In retrospect, I realize that “reality” was the one friend who always had my best in mind. The first one to meet me in the morning, and the last one I’d think about at night. At the end of the day, “reality” was always the last one standing. “Reality” never sugar-coated my issues, never diluted my struggle, and refused to give in to my whining and whimpering. Having lived a long, full life, I realize that “reality” was the one friend I should have trusted more, and doubted less. Today, remember, reality is your friend!
Pick Up Your Mat
In John 5, Jesus approached a man who had been unable to walk for 38 years and asked, “Would you like to get well?” It seemed like a silly question and, yet, it pinpoints the real issue for each of us who need a healing. What do we really want? And what are we willing to do to get it? Jesus then gave the man three critical instructions: ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!’” (John 5:8, NLT) Three essential prerequisites for any of us to get whole: “Stand up!” Are you willing to move away from where you have been? “Pick up your mat!” Are you committed to never go back? And lastly, “Walk!” Will you do whatever is needed to get whole, even if you’ve never done it before? So, let me challenge you about whatever healing you need, will you, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!?”
Keep Walking – Don’t Stop
After landing in an airport, I began walking to baggage claim. As I did, it was necessary to pass through a set of security doors encased in glass. Proceeding forward, the next door would automatically open. Unsure, I stopped, and immediately heard an automated announcement, “Continue to walk forward. Do not stop!” It produced an eerie set of emotions. The exit doors were activated by my walking forward, but remained closed unless I did. It reminded me of my walk with Jesus. As I have walked forward in faith with Jesus, over these many years, new doors have continued to open. It left me with this indelible impression for my future: If I stop going forward in faith, new doors won’t open. And, even if doors seem closed, I need to keep walking forward in faith.
Moneyball and Misfit Toys
Do you feel inadequate and insufficient? Don’t despair! They can be helpful qualities when seen from God’s perspective. In “Moneyball,” a movie about the surprisingly successful 2002 Oakland A’s baseball team, the term “an island of misfit toys” is used to describe undervalued players the Oakland A’s could have purchased for their team. I couldn’t help but think that’s how many of us in the Body of Christ see ourselves: unseen and undervalued. We write ourselves off because of misfit dimensions in our lives, not realizing that these deficiencies are the very thing that keep us dependent upon God and make us fully usable to Him. If we will trust Him, they can even become the backdrop for our ultimate transformation. God’s Word promises, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” (Isaiah 40:29, NLT)
Confidence or Conviction?
What do people most want to hear in our voice if they are in need of healing: confidence or conviction? I believe conviction is infinitely more important than confidence. It empowers us to go forward, even when we feel like giving up. Lacking confidence but having conviction can still let God flow through us. But, if I merely ride the wave of personal confidence, I’ll eventually give up. Confidence will, in time, disappoint, while conviction will keep me doing the right thing, even if I have a momentary wrong response. Confidence is way too flippant a criteria to hang my future hopes of success. Would you like to cultivate confidence? Then, embrace God’s conviction about who He has called you to be and what He would like you to do. Confidence in Him will be the natural result of God-given conviction.
Truth Can Make You Angry
At one point in my life, before I surrendered to Jesus, I believed there were many paths to God. I remember how angry I got when a young Christian showed me John 14:6 in the Bible. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” At that moment, the truth didn’t make me free, it made me angry. Not an unusual response, when reality hits us like a bolt of lightning. One day, a Christian and a Muslim were sharing about the distinctions in their faith. The Christian said to him, “The difference between our God and your god is that your god wants you to die for him, and our God wanted to die for you.” Profoundly simple, yet extraordinarily true. Once again, this truth may either set someone free or, perhaps, just make them angry.
God’s Will is Our Reality GPS
Would you like your life to have a happy ending? I trust you would! Then, may I recommend, don’t write your own script. The more we write our own story, the less happy our ending is going to be. Better to commit to be a script-doer, not a script writer, and your life will turn out exceedingly, abundantly better than you could ever imagine. Likewise, I believe the best scripts begin and end with script-ture. God’s Word even promises, “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but God’s Word will last forever.” (Matthew 24:35) The Bible is like a reality GPS. It determines where we are, and only what is real will ultimately last. God alone defines reality. By aligning your life and thoughts with God’s forever Word, He will bring His reality to pass in your life.
God Guarantees Our Future
Are you looking forward to your future? If you are a follower of Jesus, you should be. The Bible says, “The desire of the righteous ends only in good…” (Proverbs 11:23, NIV) WOW! “…ONLY GOOD!” What a promise! Following God guarantees that we will not only have a blessed life, but a blessed future. No matter how your life may look at this moment, the God of happy endings never disappoints. His Word promises, “…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32, ESV) And, “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6, ESV) And lastly, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6, ESV)
God Delights in Us
Is it difficult to imagine that God is pleased with you? For many of us it is. We’ve all done things we regret. But is God as fixated as we sometimes are on what we’ve done wrong? Consider Psalm 18:19 (ESV). It states the almost inconceivable, “…(God) rescued me because He delighted in me.” This verse literally means, “God takes pleasure in me.” WOW! Even when I struggle with being pleased with myself, God still is. Not in everything I do. But everything He created me to be. If you and I could create our own children, and envision them to view us in any way possible, wouldn’t we want them to know that we are delighted with who they are? Not because they measured up to some impossible standard, but because we created them for the very purpose of delighting in them.
Stealing From Your Parents
Recently, I read a Bible verse that jogged my memory about a sin I committed over 50 years ago. Growing up, my father carried a lot of money in his wallet. And once, just once, as a teenager, I stole $100 out of it. Even as I say this, half a century later, I’m convicted about how wrong it was. Proverbs 28:24 (NLT) says, “Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, ‘What’s wrong with that?’ is no better than a murderer.” Wow! I don’t fully understand it, but as I seek and receive God’s forgiveness, I want to let the full impact of these words seep into my heart. I never want to get to the place where I resist the conviction of God Spirit and, consequently, fail to receive His merciful kindness for my life.
Our Challenges Are Designed To Help Others
I believe each of us significantly underestimate how our challenges are designed to prepare us to help others. We can see this clearly in the life of Moses. Even though he was an Israelite by birth, he was raised as an Egyptian in Pharaoh’s household. Then, after committing murder while protecting another Israelite, he’s exiled to the wilderness for 40 years. Little did he know that these decades living in obscurity were preparation for an additional 40 years wandering with the nation of Israel. His forty years of rejection were actually 40 years of preparation. I realize more every day that the pain and struggles in my past are designed to be mined in order to help others. Have you seen this pattern in your own life? Realizing this will give you all the direction you need for your future!
Fear is a Lie
Would you like to have a life full of every blessing God intended for you? That’s not just your hope and desire, that’s His desire for you as well. Then here’s something you should do. Expand your faith and you’ll diminish your fear. Fear never lets you grow bigger than itself. Faith opens up infinite possibilities. Fear lies to you about what could happen. It cages you in. While faith broadens your horizons. Filling your heart and mind with the faith of God’s Word will choke out all fear of failure. Fear has was never been your friend, it was just the lie that kept you bound. Faith longs to be your lifelong companion, while fear has always been your enemy. Fear has no future and just wants to take you with it. Faith will last forever and will continue to expand throughout eternity.