God Sees, Hears, and Approves
When a girl dresses up and shows off her beauty, she’s saying, “Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do I have your approval?” When a boy plays a game, sport, or a musical instrument, they look for the same thing. We all want to know we are seen, heard and approved of. God has placed these desires in us. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV) The Psalmist likewise wrote, “You saw me before I was born… How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.” (Psalm 139: 16, 17) Even Jesus needed assurance “…a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:17, NIV) Today, if Jesus is your Lord: God sees you, hears you and approves of you.
Freedom and Truth
There’s no shortage of people talking about freedom and truth. But, may we never forget what freedom and truth really are, and where they come from. Freedom and truth come from God alone. Worldly seductions bring a temporary sense of freedom that always leads to bondage and depression. Man’s attempts to redefine and then repackage truth only results in deception and lies. Truth that transforms requires the compassionate courage to believe and do what God intended would set us free. Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NLT) Accept no earthly substitutes for truth and freedom. They are only real if they are Heaven sent!
The Cost of Love
Love will always cost us. Without sacrifice, there is no love. We will end up using others or being used. Love can never be unconscious. We must be fully awake to give of ourselves. Only then can those we love sense the genuineness of our care. When a relationship lacks conscious effort, a person feels taken for granted. Much of what people call love in our culture is really lust, costing little or nothing. The Message Bible says, “This is the kind of love we are talking about-not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” (1John 4:10, The Message) God, who is love, paid the ultimate price by laying down His life for each of us.
How To Get Prayers Answered
All of us would like our prayers to be answered. But, if what we are doing keeps God from answering them, changing is our only hope. The Message Bible says, “…husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should, so your prayers will not be hindered.” (1Peter 3:7, The Message) Is it possible that one of the reasons our prayers are not answered is because we don’t listen to our wives. The word “honor” here means to value and esteem, to consider her precious. After God, my wife is #1 in my life. When I love and honor her, she is more willing to join in agreement to see our prayers answered.
What Albert Einstein Didn’t Know
Albert Einstein once wrote, “Every one of us appears here involuntarily and uninvited, for a short stay, without knowing why. To me it is enough to wonder at the secrets.” Hmm? It sounds intriguing, but really quite sad. Einstein, one of the most intelligent men of all time, admitted he was stumped: that he didn’t know the origin or meaning of life. It was enough for him to wonder at the secrets. If only he’d exercised the mustard seed of faith each of us are given, and believed God’s Word, he would have known the origin of the universe! The Bible says, “God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see… Everything has been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16,17) Now, that’s not just intriguing…that’s the truth!
God Takes Pleasure in You
Do you believe that God takes pleasure in you? The Bible says, “…the Lord takes pleasure in His people…” (Psalm 149:4, NKJV) If you are a committed follower of Jesus Christ, then God takes pleasure in you. You could even personalize this scripture and say, “I know God takes pleasure in me!” If you believe that God has ever been pleased with you, then he still is. You say, “But I’ve done some really rotten things since then!” Let’s see: Did God know you were going to do those rotten things in the future when he was pleased with you in the past? Of course He did! How would your life change if you walked around everyday fully convinced that, at any given moment, God is taking pleasure in you rather than constantly critiquing or judging you? This I know, God takes pleasure in me.
Something Out Of Nothing
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, says that God created the Universe. What a simple truth, and yet not everyone believes it. I myself was an atheist for seven years before receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Jean-Paul Sartre, the well-known existentialist author, and adamant atheist believed the “loss of God” should not be mourned. Sartre stated the main problem with all philosophy is that “there is ‘something,’ instead of ‘nothing’.” Hmm? “Something instead of nothing!” That is a real problem, especially for atheists, existentialists, and evolutionists. You would think an objective person would realize if you have “something” it couldn’t come from “nothing.” The Bible affirms this logic when it says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11:3, NIV)
Feeling Like a Loser
At certain points, each of us feels like a loser. Bible characters felt the same way. Adam had serious problems with his marriage and children. Noah preached for 120 years, but didn’t have one convert. Moses couldn’t speak well. Elijah battled depression, and melted under pressure. Jonah refused to obey God. Peter had a bad temper, even cursed and behaved like a loose cannon. Yet, each of them fulfilled the will of God, after majoring in failure. When Jesus said, “It is finished…” (John 19:30, NKJV) before dying on the cross, He was acknowledging that His mission was complete. Having lived a sinless life, He had become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. If you can believe this, and trust Jesus alone to save you, you’ll never have completely failed, because true success is found in Christ alone.
Finding Mr. Right
As a pastor, I’m asked all the time how to find the perfect person to marry? Truth is, you’ll probably never find him…or her. Marriage is not so much finding the right person, as it is being the right person. And that usually takes a lifetime of willingness to change yourself, more than trying to change your spouse. Frankly, it’s a lot easier to learn to accept someone else, than to change them. The Psalmist didn’t write, “Create in my spouse a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within her.” (Psalm 51:10, ESV) He prayed for his own heart to be transformed. It’s really the only strategy that works! Concentrate on changing yourself, and count it a miracle, and an extraordinary blessing if your spouse changes at all. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” (Psalm 139:23, ESV)
Devalued, Depersonalized, and Discarded
Mark Twain wrote, “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjectures out of such a trifling investment in facts.” Though quite funny, it also has a good measure of truth. If human beings evolved from nothing, without any eternal purpose, then there really is no point to life. Sadly, it turns a prince into a frog! On the other hand, if we are created in the image and likeness of God, then we have each been given eternal value from a loving, all-powerful Creator. The Bible says, “All things were made through him (through Jesus), and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3, ESV) Without valuing life as God intended, relationships become disposable, babies are aborted, sex is trivialized, and people are ultimately devalued, depersonalized, and eventually discarded.
One of the qualities I look for in those I want to labor with is sometimes hard to find. It’s called initiative. Initiative has been defined as “The aptitude to introduce change; to act first. The ability to overcome static inertia and take the lead. Acting prior to the influence of group momentum by setting a course of behavior for others to follow.” WOW! What a concept! Introducing change! Acting first, prior to the group! Setting a course for others to follow! Those are tremendous leadership qualities. God’s looking for each of us to become that kind of person. Why? Because He’s that kind of person! We were created to be conformed to His image and likeness. The Bible says, “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, NKJV) In what area does God want you to take initiative?