Have you ever had a car that you thought would be a reliable, dependable vehicle only to discover later it was actually a lemon? You had invested so much money, so much time, and so much effort into trying to do the best you could into getting the best you could afford only to have your hopes crushed. What a disappointment. How about if you’re a business owner? Have you been diligent in carefully screening all prospective employees to find the right match for your company, thinking you’ve done all you could to ensure you would be hiring a dependable worker only to discover later they had lied on their resume and had actually convinced other people to lie just so they would get a positive reference when you called to check out the person’s character. Wouldn’t you be disappointed? Wouldn’t you wish there was some foolproof way to be sure the next time you hired someone you wouldn’t have to go through the same thing again? Don’t we all wish that there could be something or someone that we could trust to be absolutely, completely dependable? Lamentations 3:21-23 (NIV) says, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Did you catch that? The Lord’s compassions are new EVERY MORNING … every.morning. … Every Morning … every single morning. This timeless truth assures us that every day we can trust that the Lord is absolutely, completely dependable to be compassionate towards us. We can be absolutely sure He will be faithful. We can know, without a shadow of a doubt that He will always be there for us in whatever challenges we face … good or bad. Webster’s defines compassion as a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” So, when we comprehend that God Himself is compassionate towards us and that His compassion is new every single morning … no matter what we are going through, no matter what we are facing, no matter whether we bought a lemon for a car, whether we hired an undependable employee, whether we ourselves need to learn how to be more dependable ourselves … no matter what we face in life, we can trust that God will ALWAYS be there for us in a dependable, compassionate way that desires to alleviate whatever distress we may be in. So, if you need anything … anything at all: strength, help, hope, encouragement, love, peace, joy, wisdom, enablement to keep on keeping on … whatever it may be, you can trust that God will be absolutely, completely 100% dependable every single morning to compassionately be there for you to meet your need. He is faithful. He will never let you down. His desire is always for your ultimate good. His ways are higher than our ways, so sometimes His ultimate good may look different than what you may consider to be good … meaning you will most likely still have to go through some hard stuff in life … but our ultimate good always comes whenever we trust the Lord to give us the strength to get through whatever we may need to go through and when we learn whatever valuable lesson we may need to learn in the process. So, today, whatever you are facing, know that God wants to compassionately be involved in it. He compassionately wants to help you in more ways than you could ever imagine. He wants you to trust that He, alone, is absolutely, completely dependable … through it all.
Have you gotten comfortable? Maybe with this whole pandemic you’ve been enjoying having time off from work or school and you’ve fallen into a routine of getting up when you’ve wanted to, going to bed when you’ve wanted to, and wearing whatever you’ve wanted to … after all, without ever having to leave the house, who is going to see you wearing your bunny slippers all day? Problem is, it has been all too easy to get complacent … and when it’s time to actually get back into the habit of going to work or school (or just getting out of the house more frequently in general) it may not be so easy to get back into the swing of things. Taking a break is fine … and needed … from time to time. However, when that break becomes your “new normal” and the break turns into complacency into not just your outward appearance but your inward character as well, then there could be an issue that needs to be dealt with and dealt with decisively. Scripture warns against complacency. Proverbs 1:32,33 (NIV) declares, “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me (wisdom) will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” So, this is a timeless truth we would all do well to remember … complacency isn’t something to be treated lightly. It’s one thing to let your appearance go when no one else can see you; it’s another thing entirely if you’ve let your inward character go … you may think nobody else sees … but God always sees … and He always loves us so much He doesn’t want our hearts to get complacent; He doesn’t want us to have a self-satisfied, smug, unbothered attitude that thinks no changes need to be made even if a situation is dangerous or harmful (the definition of a complacent person). We are always supposed to be growing, learning, and changing throughout all of our lives … no matter how old we are. Philippians 1:6 (NIV) tells us “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” So, we should come into agreement with God’s plan and open ourselves up to change – trusting it’s actually good for us – and will actually help us to have the kind of life Jesus tells us He wants us to have when He says in John 10:10 (NIV), “… I have come that they (you) may have life, and have it to the full.” Therefore, be aware of complacency … it can be even more dangerous than the pandemic!
How many of you would like to be free just about now? With all the regulations in place it seems that rebellion against authority is a given (regardless of whether or not that rebellion is actually carried out). We were not meant to live under the tyranny of rules and regulations that cause us to forfeit our freedom. We were not meant to live without a means to express ourselves in an appropriate way … that’s why so many people have fought for so long and for so hard so that we could enjoy the freedom that is meant to be ours. Did you know that Jesus was one of those people? Did you know that Jesus came to set you and me free? For too long religious leaders would have you believe otherwise. For too long people have been led to believe they had to follow a long list of do’s and don’ts in order to receive favor with God … but that’s not true. The truth is found in scripture. The truth says in Galatians 2:15,16 (NIV) “We … know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” This is good news for you and for me. It means we don’t have to be perfect. It means we can choose to trust in Jesus’ perfection that is credited to us on our behalf when we accept his free gift of salvation. It means we can enjoy freedom in a personal relationship with God knowing, by faith, He accepts us, approves us, and loves us unconditionally … all because of what Jesus did for each and every one of us when he died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and to justify us before God as we put our faith and trust in him alone to make us righteousness. Galatians 5:1 (NIV) is also an encouragement to us as it says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Of course this doesn’t mean we should just go out and commit every kind of sin imaginable though because we’re trusting in Jesus. No, on the contrary, because of what Jesus has already done for us we should have an attitude of gratitude … and that gratitude should motivate us to want to live in a way that is honoring to him. So, as you ponder the timeless truth of the freedom Christ has already made available to you, check yourself to see if you’re actually living in that freedom. See if you are trusting in Jesus alone to make you right with God. And don’t be afraid to exercise that freedom as you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you in how you live your life because the Holy Spirit will never lead you in a way that is contrary to scripture and to honoring God. Be thankful, therefore, for the freedom you can enjoy today … no matter where you live … for John 8:31, 32 (NIV) says, “ … Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Also, 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) tells us, “ … where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
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!”
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.
Life happens. In all of it’s craziness … in all of its ups and downs … life happens. Because of this, many people know it’s wise to be prepared. Whether it’s packing extra diapers and clothes in the diaper bag before leaving the house to go on a trip, getting gas for a snowblower before a predicted major snowstorm, stocking up on toilet paper when there’s word it may be in short supply, or making sure your first aid kit is ready to go in case of a medical emergency, wisdom tells us we need to do these things so we will be prepared … whatever may come our way. What some people may not have thought of, however, is the importance of being prepared in a less obvious, less visible, less tangible way … being prepared to give an answer for the hope they have found in a relationship with Christ.
1 Peter 3:15, 16 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience…” (NIV) The truth is, we always need to be ready … we always need to be prepared … in every season of our lives. As we go about “life” we will undoubtedly find ourselves in situations we didn’t plan … situations that are actually opportunities given to us to see what we will do with them. Will we be ready to share our hope with others? Will we be willing to do so? Will we be willing to be honest and transparent so that we can relate to others on whatever level they are currently at? Will we make the most of every opportunity, knowing in our hearts that we may only get “one shot” at speaking God’s love, truth, and encouragement into someone else’s life? If we want to share with others we first need to make sure we’re prepared. How do I do that? you may ask. Well, how do you prepare for other things? You anticipate what may be needed and you use wisdom to gather those things together so you’ll have them on hand when the predicted need arises. In the same way, if you anticipate coming into contact with someone who may be hurting and who may need a word of encouragement, a good way to prepare for that anticipated need would be to “fill yourself up” with encouragement in your own heart. Whether it be reading the Bible, listening to praise and worship music, listening to a sermon, praying and getting into God’s presence as you seek Him with all your heart, or any number of other things that may help you, personally, to get “filled up” yourself, in so doing you’ll have what is needed when the opportunity comes to let yourself be “squeezed out” and share what’s already in your heart. So, the next time you find yourself in the grocery store, the hardware store, or any other place we’re “allowed” to go nowadays (with social distancing of course), make sure you’re prepared. It may take a little ingenuity to speak to someone from 6 feet away, but it can be done. If God opens the door of opportunity for you to share the hope He’s given you, being prepared ahead of time ensures you’ll be able to make the most of that opportunity. Remember, you may only get that one shot to make an eternal impact on another person’s soul … so be ready.
I am a sinner in need of salvation. I believe Jesus died on the cross in my place. I believe He alone gave His life as the perfect sacrifice for my sin. I believe Jesus not only died for my sins, but was also raised again and is now living in heaven. I believe only Jesus can make me righteous before You. There’s nothing I could ever do to earn Your free gift. I repent of all my sins and ask You to make me new as I accept Your gift of salvation now. I ask Jesus to be both the Lord and Savior of my life. Come into my heart, fill me with Your Spirit, and help me to live for You. Thank You for saving my soul. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Technology is constantly changing. Just when you think you’ve finally upgraded to the latest app, the latest edition, the latest version of the newest and the best technological advance on the market … just when you think you can breathe a sigh of relief that you’re finally finished and you can close your laptop – satisfied that you aren’t missing any important security features that might possibly crash your whole system … and your whole world … just when you think you’re finally done and you start to turn away, what do you see out of the corner of your eye? A pop-up notifying you there’s just one more thing to be updated! You groan inwardly, wondering when enough will finally be enough … wondering when it will finally be finished, wondering when there will finally be something you can count on to stay the same … wondering when there will finally be something that is timeless and true … something that you can depend on that will never change. The good news is that Jesus has already declared, “it is finished” when He hung on the cross, having been crucified to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world. Jesus alone is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus alone is timeless and true. Technology and the times may constantly be changing … but Jesus never changes and never needs to be upgraded. He alone is the one constant you can depend on that will never change. In fact, God’s Word, the Bible, is the absolute truth and Malachi 3:6 (NIV) declares, “I the Lord do not change.” With this in mind, I’ll be sharing a once-a-week blog post entitled, “Timeless Truths.” It will be similar to a devotion in that it’s purpose is to get you thinking about applying God’s Word to your everyday situations and circumstances, and my goal is to offer you hope and encouragement through whatever you’re facing. I welcome feedback and would like to hear if this new blog feature is helping you in some way. In the meantime … the next time you start up your computer, only to discover yet another security message in need of your attention, take a deep breath and let it out slowly, thankfully remembering your eternal security has already been taken care of through Jesus. Your part is simply to accept and receive the timeless gift of salvation He has freely offered on the cross … you don’t have to upgrade any further as you already possess the best of the best – for all eternity!
See my updated blog post from April 9th so you don’t miss out!