Life’s Great Irony
Do you have father wounds or mother wounds? Though it is unsettling to retrieve the priceless value of past hurts, they are actually the birth pangs of renewed hope. Many of us have an unclaimed lottery ticket from our childhood in the pocket closest to our heart. Even though it will be painful, it is God’s will that what was stolen from us is restored, not just in our own life, but for generations to come. God can use the sadness in our past to help someone in our present. Every healed hurt in our lives offers hope to others. That’s life’s great irony: that every person takes what the devil meant for evil and sees it transformed into good. If we yield to God’s Spirit, nothing is ever wasted in the Kingdom of God.
The Richest Person You Know
Have you ever imagined someone rich dying and leaving you everything? It could happen! Actually, it did happen! 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” And then in Romans, “…since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” (Romans 8:17, NLT) So, the next time you’re a little jealous of someone who has something you don’t, just remember, if you really are a follower of Jesus, you are the richest person you know.
Processing Your Past
We don’t bury our wounds dead. We bury them alive. If you haven’t fully processed your past, it’s not your past! It’s still your present. And you can’t get to your future, if you’re stuck in your present because you’re unwilling to sufficiently unpack your past. But the good news is, there was Someone with you during every hurtful, difficult moment. And, even though it’s hard for you to look at certain events, He’s already provided a marvelous way of escaping the endless pain in order to experience the healing and freedom your heart longs for. This healing process will not only bring you closer to your Creator, but it will provide the insight to free others as well. The Bible says, “…God is faithful…he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV)
Changing What You Believe
Repentance is not just a change of behavior; it’s a change of belief. I used to think the transformation process meant first changing my actions, but now I begin by focusing on changing what I really believe. It’s a simple principle! If you want to change your behavior, change your beliefs. I can believe the Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to feed on it. In order for God’s Word to really change me, I have to believe it’s even more important than my food; only then do I see it’s true value. In the original language, the Greek word for “repent” is “metanoeo,” which means, “to change your mind.” Only God can do this, but He can’t do it without our surrender. “Jesus, change my behavior by helping me to change what I believe!”
If you have been born again, then you have experienced the presence of God—and like me, you know God’s presence has been the difference between life and death. That’s why when God told Moses in the wilderness, “My presence will go with you…” Moses responded, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” (Exodus 33:14-15) Moses was saying ‘God, if you’re not going with me, then I don’t want to go. I already saw that movie. It didn’t end well.’ Either we let Jesus lead us by His Spirit, or we return to following someone who doesn’t know where they’re going. Only God knows what is best for me. I never have, and following Him has been the greatest joy in my life.
Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)
Perhaps you’ve heard of the pseudo-psychological condition called FOMO, which stands for the Fear Of Missing Out. It is described, tongue and cheek, as “a medical condition of extreme anxiety regarding the fun others could be having without you.” HA! Now, if you’re extroverted, you probably know what I’m talking about. But if you’re an introvert, you may be really glad you missed the party. Either way, all of us want to be included in the best parts of life. And so, I’ve found the absolutely best part of living is getting to know the Creator of Life, all life, past, present and future life, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s the God who is life. Accept no substitutes, and you’ll never feel like you’re missing out.
Let No One Deceive You
Jesus said the days would come when there would be leaders who would “…deceive, if possible, even (the elect) God’s chosen ones.” (Matthew 24:24) It’s a scary thought, and why the Bible says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words…” (Ephesians 5:6) So, here is one of the clearest ways of know someone is trying to deceive you with empty words. When they try and diminish the Bible as God’s Word—explaining why it’s wrong when it says this or that…that they have a more advanced moral, philosophical, and spiritual perspective. The truth is “All Scripture is inspired by God…” (2 Timothy 3:16a) and as the Bible says in its final verses, there are grave consequences to those who would attempt to add or subtract from the words of this book. God’s Word is truth, and the only truth that will set you free.
Every mountain climber has a goal of reaching the summit. In our pursuit of getting to the top, we often take the most obvious route. Yet, quite often, in thinking we are nearing the peak we find we are actually at what is called a false summit. It’s defined as a precipice we can see directly in front of us, that actually shadows or hides the true summit. At these anti-climactic moments, it is essential to realize that these false summits were placed there by God to keep us dependent upon Him, and trust in what He says is true and not what we feel or see. If we fail to do this, we will be discouraged by what is before us. We must set our sights not on the obvious, but on the ultimate goal: the summit, the highest point God has called us to.
Trusting God’s Motive
Do you feel like God has let you down? All of us will at some point think this. Even Jesus groaned, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) Yet, attributing a bad motive to God only means we’re not seeing Him clearly. After Adam and Eve sinned, God covered them with animal skins not because he was ashamed of them, but because he wanted to comfort them. This is why the motive we ascribe to God is perhaps the clearest indication of how well we know Him. God is love. God is kind, forgiving and gracious. Is that the God you know? If not, somewhere along the way your perspective of God has been skewed by a wrong attitude or lack of understanding. Guard your responses to life, for they will show if you really know and trust God.
I was using the word “success” in relation to God with one of my daughters when she said, “You know Dad, even though I know what you mean, a better word to use is the word “favor.” I loved her recommendation, and when I looked up a definition of “favor,” it only got better. Favor is defined as “support or advancement given as a sign of approval, overgenerous preferential treatment, and an act of kindness beyond what is due.” WOW! Isn’t that what God does for us? How would our experience of life change if we viewed every challenge as a promotion, every struggle as an opportunity, and every difficulty as divinely ordained by God. If we really trusted that a loving, gracious, generous God had planned the best life possible for each of us, we’d live in the peace beyond our understanding; fully embracing His favor.
Inches to Miles, Molehills to Mountains
Not every time you and I obey God and step out in faith will we get the desired result. But, I truly believe every time I obey God it will result in my character being formed, my trust and relationship with Him being strengthened, and being further prepared for the greater acts of faith ahead. I would never have believed for the mile, if I had not first believed for the first inch. If I can’t trust God to remove the molehill, I’ll never trust Him to remove the mountain. The Bible says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT) Jesus affirmed this principle as well. “First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens.” (Mark 4:28, NLT)
Do you feel that God is not answering your prayers? Does He seem far away? All of us will experience this. Yet, our faith is proven, not by answered prayer, but by our willingness to be obedient even when prayers seemed to be unanswered. By the way, every prayer gets answered. Sometimes, the answer is just “No!” But it’s never an angry or indifferent “No!” It’s always a wise, discerning, loving, Fatherly “No. No, my son or daughter, that wouldn’t be best for you! Just trust Me, and down the road you’ll see I had your best interest in mind.” Finally, we should never forget, the purpose of prayer is not to get a desired answer, but to develop the desired relationship with our all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful Creator. And, if we trust God, that prayer always gets answered.