You’re God’s Favorite
Does God have favorites? Absolutely! Each of us are His favorite representation of the one-of-a-kind qualities He’s given us. That’s not just a play on words, it’s an accurate description of how special we are to God. It is impossible for Him to give us less than His best, because He’s already given it! From the foundation of the world, God pre-determined that this was indeed His will. His love compelled Him to divinely prepare the perfect script for each of our lives. The Bible says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32, ESV) Knowing that I am a favorite son of God changed my life, and it will change your life as well.
Too Much Bad News
Do you feel overwhelmed by all of the bad things happening on Earth? How could you not? That’s why it’s so important to monitor what comes into your mind. You can’t have healthy thoughts if you are constantly feeding on the graphic unhealthiness happening around you. We all know there’s such a thing as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). But, is it possible that many of us are experiencing TMBN (Too Much Bad News). We are not capable of going from one overtly tragic piece of information to another. We will invariably become like the company we keep…be it people or thoughts! The Bible says, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)
Here are some guidelines that have worked during Suzie and my 40 years of marriage. We have different perspectives, but if something’s important to either of us, it’s important. We don’t have to understand each other’s journey in order to be kind, caring and affirming. Whenever one of us is unheard we feel devalued. By listening more and talking less we try and be more concerned about hearing than being heard. Doing right is more important than being right. We can fester on past breaches with one another, or we can forgive and release, because we want our relationship to always be filled with more hope than tension. We’re not looking for equity, we want healing. Though not always successful, we try to live, laying down our lives, turning the other cheek, and running the extra mile.
One of the qualities that hurts most when lost and blesses most when found, is loyalty. It has been defined as “using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those whom He has called me to serve.” For some people, loyalty is a thing of the past, being trumped by individual preference. We are fast-becoming the most self-absorbed generation in history. Yet, unfaithfulness is one of life’s greatest heartbreaks. The Bible says, “a faithful man who can find!” (Proverbs 20:6, ESV) Having been an “unfaithful man” prior to allowing Jesus to be the Lord of my life, I sang to my wife Suzie on our wedding day, “Suzie I won’t fail you!” That’s still the desire of my heart, and my daily prayer. May the God who is faithful to us help us to be faithful to others.
There are some things that are timeless—even priceless for all generations. One of them is virtue. Noah Webster defined virtue as “voluntary obedience to truth, strength that comes from straining, stretching, and extending.” It’s always a stretch to live a virtuous life. We strain and extend ourselves to voluntarily walk in truth. It always takes yielding to God’s Spirit in order to have Christ-like character. The Bible says, “…add to your faith virtue…” (2 Peter 1:5, NKJV) Faith is eternal, but it will take voluntary virtue to strain, stretch and extend us in order to be faithful to Jesus. Proverbs says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10, KJV) Virtue is priceless and timeless, and essential to pursue for every Christ-follower.
Gypsy Smith was born in a tent six miles outside of London. When he was young his mother died of smallpox, and he spent most of his early life living in a gypsy wagon. At the time he received Jesus at sixteen, he couldn’t read or write, yet when he was born again he carried around a Bible, an English Dictionary and a Bible Dictionary wherever he went, even though he couldn’t read them. He would say, “one day I’ll be able to read these because God has called me to preach.” Through diligence and self-discipline he taught himself how to read and ultimately preached, seeing tens of thousands come to know Jesus. Some consider him the best-loved evangelist of all time! The Bible says, “…diligence is man’s precious possession.” (2 Peter 1:5, NKJV) It can be the difference-maker in a life that is truly successful.
Guard Your Heart, Mind and Friendships
Have you ever heard these expressions, “He made me so mad!” or “I get so frustrated when I’m around her!” These statements actually are not true. No one can make you feel mad, sad, or frustrated; only you can do that. Your responses to life’s challenges are always completely in your court. That’s why the Bible says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT) No one can get into your home unless you let him. That’s why it’s important to wash and renew your mind with God’s Word every day in order to keep the bad thoughts out. Finally, the Bible does provide further guidelines, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person…or you may learn their ways.” (Proverbs 22:24-25, NIV) To sum it up: Carefully guard your heart, thoughts and friendships.
Is there anything more important than character? I don’t think so. Character in Scripture is translated as the “express image,” and was considered as “the exact representation of the object whose image it bore.” The word “character” means the impression itself, usually something engraved, cut in, or stamped. In the Book of Hebrews, Jesus Christ is referred to as the “express image” of God; (Hebrews 1:3) He fully expressed the character of God through His life. One of God’s primary goals for believers is to transform us into the image of His Son so that we may be a reflection of the character of Christ…the stamp or impression of God’s life and character on us. So that, when people see us, they are seeing the heart and character of God. To me, that sounds exactly how I want to live.
One of the most encouraging things someone can say about you is that, “You’re sincere!” “Sincere!” That’s actually quite a compliment. But what does it really mean? The word “sincere” has two Latin routes: “sin” meaning “without,” and “cere” meaning “flaws.” So, sincere literally means “without flaws.” When a sculpture was made, to make a bronze figuring, they would start off first by making a wax original. When wax originals were ready to be cast, they had to be sincere: “without flaws.” So, when we say, “she’s sincere,” what we’re really saying is, she’s a person without deception or flaws. Even though we all know we have flaws, it does provide a goal worth pursuing. The Bible says, “…that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ…” (Philippians 1:10, NKJV)
I don’t know about you, but I’m comforted when I hear that great men and women of God were as challenged as I often feel. One man God mightily used was a plumber by trade, but ultimately traveled the world ministering to thousands. His name was Smith Wigglesworth, and he wrote this: “Before God could bring me to this place, he broke me a thousand times. I have wept, I have groaned, I have travailed many a night until God broke me. It seems to me that until God has mowed you down, you never can have this long-suffering for others.” WOW! That makes sense! How can I have compassion for others without God doing a deep work in me. So, the next time you’re thinking what you’re going through isn’t worth it, realize God is going to use all you’ve been through to help someone else.
Are there prayers God can’t answer? Definitely! Here are a couple of unanswerable prayers: “God, make my life easier?” “Sorry son, I can’t do that! It would only diminish who you were created to become.” “OK then, make my life more challenging, so I can grow faster? “Once again, I can’t do it, because I’ve already set in motion what needs to take place in your life for you to grow as fast as possible.” Are you getting the picture? God’s pre-determined what is best for each of us, so any adjustments on His part are not necessary. This is actually an incredibly liberating thought. Now, all we have to do is agree with Him and obey Him in order to reap the benefits of His grace.