How do you know what to keep and what to throw away? Sometimes the answer is obvious. Other times it can be harder to discern. Most likely, if you have a scheduled trash pick up day, you prepare for it by taking out the trash and putting it at the designated pick-up spot – usually at the curb. Then, just like clockwork, the person comes and does the dirty work for you – often just leaving behind an empty trash can. But what happens if you accidentally threw something away that was never intended to be trash? How would you get it back? Would you even want to try? Spiritually speaking, Hebrews 10:35 (ESV) says, “do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” What confidence you may ask. The confidence you had when you first understood what it meant to be saved. The confidence that enabled you to endure a great struggle with suffering – knowing that you had a better and enduring possession for yourselves in heaven (see Hebrews 10:32-34). So, the timeless truth in this scripture reminds us that keeping our confidence (rather than accidentally or purposefully allowing it to be taken out with other trash) has an eternal value. In fact, there is a great reward coming. Hebrews 10:36-39 (ESV) says, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” So, today, if you have unwittingly put the confidence you had in Jesus in the trash, know that all you need to do to get it back is to make a choice. Yes, simply make the choice to believe that all of God’s Word is true and all of God’s Word applies to you – yes, even to you who may have backslidden away from a close, personal relationship with Jesus. God is not as far away as you may think. He is right here, right now waiting for you to pick up the confidence you may have lost somewhere along the way. Just pick it back up, put it back in your heart, and recommit your life to Him so He becomes first in your life once again. In so doing, you can be assured, with confidence, your reward will be great for all of eternity.
What does the word multiplication make you think of? Perhaps you’re reminded of the days you went to school and your teacher had you practice your times tables … multiple times. Or, maybe the word makes you think of something different. Maybe you’re the mother of twins … and when you found out you were expecting not one, but two babies you knew your life was about to change forever … times two. In any case, the word multiplication usually refers to more than just one. Spiritually speaking, when one person accepts Jesus into their heart to be their Lord and Savior the positive changes that occur don’t usually affect just that one person … it usually has an impact on everyone that person comes in contact with … or at least it should. Matthew 5:16 (ICB) says, “ … you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do. Live so that they will praise your Father in heaven.” So, the timeless truth in this verse lets us know that our lives are meant to be lived intentionally and with a purpose. We need to live our lives in such a way that others around us are impacted in a positive way … and the result will be that they will actually praise God. For example, let’s say that someone you know who is not a Christian is going through a rough time. Perhaps they have just undergone a serious surgery and are in the hospital. Then let’s say the Holy Spirit puts it in your heart to go visit them and you chose to obey. At the hospital you walk up to the nurses station and ask what room the person is in. The nurse looks at you incredulously while giving you the information and you go on your way, not realizing why they had looked at you so strangely. Once in the person’s room you greet them and ask how they are doing. With tears in their eyes, they admit how low they had been feeling since no one has bothered to stop by to visit them … no one until you (even though their own family lives only a short distance down the road). They also admit that they were just hoping someone … anyone … would come by to see them that particular day so they would know God had heard their silent prayer … and then you showed up … and they were infinitely grateful and thankful to God and praised God in their heart … for you. Without realizing it, you became part of the multiplication process. Without realizing it, you were being a light for another person. Without realizing it they were seeing the good thing you were doing … and without realizing it, God was praised … and not one, not two, but three people’s lives were impacted … the person in the hospital, the nurse who you had spoken to whose faith unwittingly was restored in the goodness of mankind when you – the first visitor – showed up … and your life was impacted as well – because you were blessed when you saw others being blessed. So, today, will you allow yourself to be part of God’s equation? Will you allow His light to shine through you so it is multiplied? Say yes and be assured that God will be praised!
Letting go is never easy. Perhaps it’s even harder than keeping things the way they are. We get in our comfort zone … and then, when the time comes for us to leave, we find ourselves procrastinating and finding all kinds of good-sounding excuses why it’s better for us to stay than to leave. Unfortunately, this type of thinking just leaves us stuck … and stagnant. Too afraid to move forward and do something positive with our lives we end up staying where we are … and end up missing the growth and full potential our heavenly father would have us reach … for His glory. Ecclesiastes 3:1,6 (NIV) says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens … a time to keep and a time to throw away.” This timeless truth is easy to apply to certain areas of our lives … when it comes to making relatively easy decisions about what to keep and what to throw away for food in our refrigerators, for example, all we really need to do is look at the expiration date or (if we’re really brave) just smell that gallon of milk to see if it’s gone sour yet, or look at that piece of cheese to see if there’s any mold on it yet. Other decisions may be a little harder … such as what to keep and what to put in the yard sale your spouse insists on having … knowing that the time has come. How about even harder decisions … like making the choice to let go of a grudge and forgive the person who hurt you? Or making the choice to take a step of faith and follow the path God is leading you on … even when that path involves letting go of your own plans, your own dreams, and your own way of accomplishing things … trusting that God’s way is far better. Like I said, letting go is never easy … in Matthew 26:39 (NIV) we can see that even Jesus had to deal with this issue as we read, “he (Jesus) fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup (of having to go to the cross to be crucified) be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” So, today, whatever God may be laying on your heart to let go of … whatever it may be … follow Jesus’ example and come into agreement with the One who knows what’s best for you, personally, and say, “not my will, but yours be done … I let it go!”
The law of love supersedes the law of man. Jesus himself showed this to be true when a leper came to him for healing in Mark chapter 1 verses 40-41. The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) reads, “Then a man with leprosy came to him and, on his knees, begged him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. “I am willing,” he told him. “Be made clean.” In those days, people with leprosy were considered “unclean” and usually quarantined themselves away from others due to the law of Moses. This man, however, knew that Jesus could heal him and had no qualms about asking to be healed. In turn, Jesus responded to this man’s faith with love … effectively breaking through the barriers of society … miraculously healing the man, and showing us that nothing is greater … or more important … than love. Song of Songs 8:6-7 (NIV) says, “ … love is as strong as death … many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” So, with all the “laws of man” out there, don’t forget an even more important law – the law of love. Even Jesus, when asked what the greatest commandment was replied, “’Love the Lord your God … and the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37, 39 NIV). This timeless truth involves obeying the Holy Spirit as He leads and guides you in your interactions with others … even in a pandemic. It may mean you obey the “laws of man” by keeping social distance and wearing a face mask in public to protect others from potential harm … or it may mean something even more radical. It may mean heeding the Holy Spirit’s whisper to your heart if He’s prompting you to approach someone others may consider “unapproachable” … such as a broken person you may “happen” to see crying off to the side … away from others … crying because they feel discouraged by the many rules and regulations out there that have turned them into a virtual hermit feeling like nobody cares how alone they feel … until you courageously approach them with the healing words of encouragement they so desperately need to hear to keep pressing on for yet one more day. If you’ve truly heard from God and truly obeyed His direction, you may just find yourself in the middle of God performing a miracle through you … perhaps even saving someone’s life … simply because you chose to obey the law of love above all else … believing nothing is more important.
Fear is becoming more and more widespread as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Everywhere you turn, it seems, someone or something is trying to influence you to fear. Safety has become our #1 concern. What can we do to protect ourselves? What can we do to be safe? The answers are varied … wearing masks, washing our hands, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces … the list could go on and on. In this day and age, it’s important to know how to be safe … not just physically, but mentally as well. Our minds can play tricks with us … fear of the unknown can cause our mental state to spiral out of control … and fear of other people’s opinions can be just as damaging. When we let others opinions of us dictate how we live our lives we are, in reality, giving in to fear … we are, in reality, allowing it to be a “snare” that ends up controlling us. Proverbs 29:25 (NIV) says, “ Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” This means if someone gives you a hard time for obeying what the Lord has put on your heart to do, you will need to exercise faith and humbly trust that the Lord knows what’s best for you, personally … even if it means you’re “different” than those around you. For example, say you’re in your living room watching a church service live stream on YouTube and the worship team is singing and you feel the urge to raise your hands in praise to the Lord … right there in your living room with your husband or wife who is not a Christian in the adjacent room where they can see you and you know they may not “approve” of your behavior … right at that moment, you have a choice to make … are you going to allow that other person (as much as you love them) to be a “snare” to you … are you going to allow the fear of their opinion control your actions? Or are you going to humbly trust that you will be “safe” as you trust the Lord that everything really will be okay as you go ahead and raise your hands in praise to Him … trusting that, perhaps, your unsaved spouse may just be watching you to see how serious you really are about your faith and about expressing your love and praise to God … no matter who is watching. Perhaps, as you take that step of faith, they may even choose to come into the room and see what all the fuss is about … and they may even get encouraged to begin their own relationship with the Lord that night as well … and all it may have taken was for you to not allow fear to win. I could give many more examples, but you get the idea. When you allow God to direct your path (rather than people’s opinions) you will always be kept safe spiritually. But what if I still feel afraid you may ask? Well, 1 John 4:18 (NIV) is your solution. It says, “ … perfect love drives out fear …” When you stay close to God, you stay close to His love … and His love will drive out any fear you may feel as you trust in Him and keep your eyes on Him rather than on other people’s (real or imagined) opinions of you. Psalm 25:3 (NIV) gives even further encouragement as it declares, “No one who hopes in You will ever be put to shame.” So, today, don’t allow fear of man to be a snare, instead, trust in the Lord and you will be kept safe.
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