God Invites Us to Help Him, Even Though We’re Not Perfect

If you have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, you have no doubt been asked to color.  Crayons, markers, doesn’t matter, just something to add color to a coloring book or computer printed picture. Kids don’t really care what you color, they just want you to do it WITH them.

A while back my four-year-old granddaughter invited me to the table to color with her. She had all the crayons and markers lined up and she had a selection of coloring books to choose from. I picked a book and flipped through the pages to find a picture that wasn’t already colored in. She did the same and we settled into a quiet conversation while we colored together.

As he colored, she kept looking over at my picture. Finally, she scooted her chair closer to mine and held her marker above my picture. She said, “Grandma, I could help you color that part right there. It will be so pretty!”

Now some of you are cringing at the thought. You are working on this masterpiece and YOU want to finish it yourself.  Be honest, you know you do! I did too, for a split second, then I remembered it wasn’t about some simply drawn picture that I wanted to finish, it was about spending time with my little one and letting her think she was helping me.

Suddenly, God showed me a picture of how He sees the very same thing in us. He has a perfect plan that He can accomplish without help. He doesn’t need to even think about how to do it because everything He does is perfect.

But He looks at us and pushes his coloring book closer to us and says, “sure, you can help.” He already knows we won’t do it perfectly, we will color outside the lines, we will make mistakes. But it’s okay. He just wants us to do it with Him because he loves to spend time with us.

God the Father invites us to help Him manage His creation. He lets us participate even though our efforts aren’t perfect. He loves us and welcomes us into His work without hesitation.

C.S. Lewis said, “He seems to do nothing of Himself which He can possibly delegate to His creatures. He commands us to do slowly and blunderingly what He could do perfectly and in a twinkling of an eye. Creation seems to be delegation through and through.”

God wants us to join Him in building His kingdom. He’ll let you color His picture and even supply the markers.

“He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” – Titus 3:5 (ESV)

“He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” – 2 Timothy 1:9 (CSB)

 

Are You Getting Excited About Heaven?

Think about your last vacation. Maybe you planned a cruise or a hiking trip to the mountains. When you settled on a date you put it on your calendar and even though it might be months away you began to think about it.

Perhaps you planned what you would pack and what you would wear. You might have planned meals or favorite restaurants you wanted to visit on your trip.

As the weeks passed and the day of departure got closer you got more excited, imagining what a wonderful time you would have.

Are you as excited about Heaven?  Do you think daily that the time is getting closer? Do you imagine being with Jesus in a place where there will be no more tears and no more sorrow?

We should be planning for the trip just like we did our best vacation even though we don’t know the exact date. We don’t have to take anything with us and a banquet will be prepared for us upon our arrival.

So instead of planning what we should pack…we should be thinking about who we want to take with us. Who do you need to talk to about making the trip to Heaven with you?

“How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them? “ – Romans 10:14 (CEV)

What Does Learning to Swim Have to Do With God?

This summer I had the privilege of watching my 4-year-old granddaughter learn to swim. First, she got comfortable putting her tiny face in the water. Then she would jump into my arms and let me catch her after she was completely submerged. Finally, she got brave enough to hold on to the side and swim to me.

She would hold the side of the pool with one hand and hold her nose with the other. When she mustered up the courage she would take a deep breath and let go. The first time she needed me to be only a few inches away. Then she got a little braver and let me back up a bit. Sometimes she would lose her courage and say, “come closer!” and I would move a step toward her. Each time, right before she was ready to go, she would say, “and you’re not going to move?” And each time I would assure her that I wouldn’t.

After many attempts, she began to say, “Grandma back up just a little,” and after I did, she always added, “and you’re not going to move?” I would assure her again and she would scrunch up her face and let go of the side.
Now she can swim halfway across the pool into my arms. She always knows I will catch her, and she knows I will keep my word and not move the “finish line” when she isn’t looking.

God wants us to trust Him in the same way my little granddaughter trusts me. He will not trick us and move the goal farther away. He won’t get distracted and forget to catch us. He will encourage us and challenge us to expand our ability to trust Him just like she was able to let me get further and further away. God wants us to grow in our faith. He expects us to trust Him for bigger things as we mature in our walk with Him.

When my precious little one jumps off the side of the pool or musters the courage to push off from the edge in water that is over her head, she is trusting me with her entire self. She is letting go with abandon and feels completely secure.

That’s exactly what God wants us to do.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5(ESV)

“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.” – Proverbs 4:25-26(NASB)

 

 

How to Be a Friend of God

When was the last time you ordered food or coffee from a drive-thru? Maybe you visit the same place frequently. Perhaps you have become familiar with the person who takes your order every day.  You might even know their name.

But do you really know them? You may exchange “good mornings,” on a regular basis but you really know nothing about them. You order, you pay, you smile and say thank-you as they hand you your order. Then you drive away.

Isn’t that how we sometimes treat God? We know where to go for what we need. We can express our needs in a clear way. We pay our dues by trying to do the things we know God expects. Finally, we thank Him for all he does for us and then we… drive away.

Beth Moore said in a devotion I read recently, “We cannot have a drive-thru relationship with God and expect to behold His glory.”

God wants more from us than a list of requests and a few words of appreciation.  He wants relationship.

Think of your best friend. Does that person know things about you that most people don’t? How did that happen? They know you because they have spent time with you. Probably LOTS of time. When you are with your friend, wouldn’t you rather go to a nice restaurant where you can sit and talk and laugh together instead of going through the drive-thru? Or maybe you would have them over to your house for a meal and an evening of visiting. God wants us to spend time with Him like we do our friends. He wants to tell us things that only His closest friends know.

A while back I wrote a devotion called, “Do You Have a BFF?”  where I talked about how well God knows you and wants to bless you. He knows everything about you. But He wants more than a relationship where He knows you. He wants you to know HIM. He has so much to tell you!  Spend some time just sitting in His presence and listening to His voice.

God is who He says He is but how will we believe it unless we get to know Him? How can we trust Him if we don’t know Him? And how can we get to know Him if we treat Him like a Drive-Thru God?

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”– Jeremiah 29:13(ESV)

“So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend” – James 2:23 (HCSB)

Who’s Cheering You On?

When I was in high school, I was in the marching band. Each week in the fall we practiced hard and then on Friday night we had those few minutes of half-time to perform. We put our all into it and did the very best we could. It wasn’t always perfect. It really didn’t matter. We had bonded as a group and worked together to make it happen.

For me, one of the best parts was knowing that my mom and dad were in the stands watching. I knew they were proud of me and cheering me on no matter what. They didn’t care if we were out of step. They didn’t care if someone made a sour note. They didn’t even care if a squad got turned around and marched in the wrong direction for a moment.

They were there to support the band. They knew how hard we tried and they applauded our efforts. I could even hear my dad sometimes! He could be quite enthusiastic. He would cheer and whistle and I could hear him clearly above the crowd. He was always there in the stands, for me.

So, who cheers you on? Who is it that has your back when things get rough? You may think of a person like your spouse or your parent. It may be a close friend. But can I tell you something? There is One who is a friend who is closer than a mom or dad or spouse. He knows you. He sees you trying so hard to get it right. He applauds and cheers your victories.

Because He loves you.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” -Zephaniah 3:17(NASB)

 

Do You Feel Like You Can’t Measure Up?

This fall our women’s Bible study group began this study. We are now about halfway through and I can say that I already see a change in myself and the ladies at my table. It’s like we are taking a collective breath of fresh air. We are finding that we aren’t meant to keep striving to measure up to a standard we can’t even define. We are learning that we don’t have anything to prove to anybody. Not even God.

Jennie Allen gets right to the heart of what makes us tired. Not just physically tired, but soul tired. She addresses what we believe about being enough and helps us find peace in the fact that we will never be enough and we don’t have to be. Jesus is enough for all of us.

This study was created after Jennie wrote her book, Nothing to Prove. I would recommend reading the book as well as doing the Bible study.

The Truth is Stranger than Fiction

You’ve heard the saying, “Strange, but true.”  There are books, videos, and museums that serve up a continuous supply of strange things. All I need to do is mention a name… Ripply.  We have all heard of “Ripply’s Believe It or Not!” Robert Ripply was a man who traveled the world looking for the strangest he could find.

He was quoted as saying,

“I have traveled in 201 countries and the strangest thing I saw was man.”

He started his cartoons in 1918 and though he died in 1949, Ripply’s legacy of the strange and unexplainable goes on. That’s 100 years of finding weird things to print in books and display in their “Odditoriums.”

I would bet there is no display for the strangest thing that ever happened in all of history. No book that covers it… oh, wait. There IS a book that talks about this event.  It’s the Bible.

In Acts 17:18 we are told,  “And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”– because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.” (NASB)

In this passage, they are referring to Paul. They thought what he was saying was strange. He was talking about Jesus!  It was the strangest story anyone had ever heard.

It’s still the strangest story. Who would sacrifice His own son to save a group of rebellious sinners?  Who would willingly die on a cross for people who didn’t even believe anything He said?

The Greek word for strange gives us the word PARADOX. A paradox refers to something beyond expectations.  It means something completely outlandish.

I think that is the perfect way to describe what Jesus did.

He came willingly at His Father’s request, to lay down His life for those who spit on him and turned their backs on him. He gave up His place in Heaven to come here and rescue us even though we didn’t believe we needed to be rescued. He loves us that much.

That is the strangest thing you will ever hear. Certainly stranger than fiction.

Do you believe it?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (NASB)

 

God’s People Mover

Many years ago, a dear friend lost her young daughter in a terrible car accident. She also had her husband and three other children in the hospital. Although I was there in the aftermath to try to help any way I could, I couldn’t begin to imagine her grief. Her circumstances were beyond overwhelming.

As I prayed and asked God how He wanted to use me in this situation, he gave me a simple word picture. I knew I would share this with my friend but it didn’t seem like enough. I was obedient and shared with her this simple picture.

I said to her, “God knows you are overwhelmed. He wants you to picture yourself at a busy airport. You can see people frazzled and hurried, trying their best to get to their destination. You can also see people choose to get on the people movers, those moving walkways that take you where you need to go without you putting forth the effort. You must step on the moving floor and allow yourself to be taken along your way.”

I said that the Holy Spirit was like that walkway. God wanted her to picture herself stepping onto that walkway of the Holy Spirit and then allow Him to carry her through this most difficult season of her life.

At the time, I thought it was such a small thing. I just did what God said and trusted Him with the rest.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of spending time with my friend. We have lived many hours apart for a long time. As we talked, she mentioned that difficult time in her life and she remembered the story of the people movers. She also shared that God had allowed her to use that same word picture to comfort someone else who had suffered a loss.

Isn’t it amazing what something so simple can do? Perhaps you need reminding that the Holy Spirit is available and desires to carry you through whatever is hard in your life right now. Make the choice to hop on God’s people mover and let Him carry you too.

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

“And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” – Isaiah 42:16 (ESV)

 

Who is Your Comforter?

We all need comfort from time to time. Life is hard. Things happen.

Isn’t that why we end up defining an area of our life as our “comfort zone?” I frequently read articles or sections of books where the author encourages us to move out of our comfort zones.  We need to take risks, be courageous, try new things.

It’s a well-known fact that human beings seek safe places. Not just physically but emotionally as well. So we block off this area of our life and declare that it is our “comfort zone.” The place where we feel safe and where we have peace. Outside it could be dangerous, challenging… uncomfortable.

I want to suggest that the dangerous place is actually INSIDE our comfort zone. It’s where we have personally designed and defined what we need to feel safe. It’s where we have made our own rules.

Outside our comfort zone, we are at the mercy of the world, right?

Wrong. Outside our man-made comfort zone, the place where we’ve become our own comforter, is the place where we must call upon the Great Comforter. When we move outside the walls we’ve built to keep us safe, we are really moving into the place where we can receive true comfort. Everything else is artificial.

As long as we stay in our safe and secure fortress, we can never experience true comfort. God offers perfect comfort in every circumstance. How can I choose my own inadequate source of comfort when I could trade it for His just by stepping out of my comfort zone into His loving arms?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  – 2 Corinthians 1:3 (CSV)

How Sweet is the Spirit of the Lord

Have you ever worked with confectioner’s sugar?  We’ve always called it powdered sugar because it’s so refined that it makes a cloud as you work with it. It reminds me of my grandma’s bath powder. She kept it in a tin on her bathroom shelf and you could always tell when she used some because the room had a sweet scent after she finished.

There’s an even more interesting effect from powdered sugar.  As you work with it, opening the bag, spooning it into a measuring cup, and pouring it into the bowl you can stir up quite a cloud. And if you stir it too vigorously, you can make a real mess.  But if you happen to breathe in through your mouth while that cloud of sugar is in the air you can actually taste the sweetness.  The sugar goes everywhere and eventually settles on the surfaces nearby.  But while it’s being stirred up, you can taste it!

That is a perfect picture of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a believer in Christ. If you leave Him inside, sealed up tight, no one will even notice He is present. But if you open your heart to others and stir up the presence of the Holy Spirit, others around you will get a whiff of something wonderful. And as they draw closer, they’ll be able to taste the sweet presence of God’s Spirit in you.

Take time to stir up the gift inside you and you will be able to share it with those around you who are longing for a taste of life, hope, and love. They’ll come looking for the source of the sweetness they experience when they are near you. Let the Holy Spirit move in your life and others will be drawn to Him.

“O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” – Psalm 34:8(NASB)