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)

Mary and Joseph’s Packing List

unnamedThey embarked upon a journey that neither of them had chosen. They were compelled by the government to take a trip that would take them eighty miles from their home. Mary was not just a little pregnant, she was, according the scriptures, “great with child.” She knew her time was near and yet she had to travel a long and difficult journey that would take about a week to complete.

What did she pack to take on her trip? Only what she and Joseph could carry themselves. There were no luggage handlers to load and unload their baggage. There were not suitcases with wheels and handles. Mary and Joseph didn’t take several changes of clothes, toiletries or reading material to entertain them on their journey. They didn’t take an extra pair of shoes or dress clothes for an evening out while they were away. They likely only packed the bread they would eat on the trip and perhaps a blanket or two if they had an extra. Talk about traveling light!

But they took one other thing with them. They took a complete trust in their Heavenly Father who had told them He would care for them.

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

They knew God would care for them because He had promised to do so and they believed Him. That doesn’t mean they didn’t fight some doubt but after all, if Mary was in her final days of her pregnancy, they’d had several months to wrestle with their doubts. I would like to think that by this time they were beginning to have some assurance in their hearts that God would  keep His promise to them. He’d already seen them through the long pregnancy and the ridicule that they likely experienced from their friends and family.

They knew what a shepherd’s job was. They knew that if God was their shepherd, he would lead them and feed them. He would also protect them, provide shelter and keep them safe. He would care for their every need like he’d been doing since the day the angel had told them of the coming of their son, Jesus.

They were indeed, as helpless as sheep. They were vulnerable and weak. But they knew their shepherd was able to meet their needs. They were in want of nothing.

What do you need from your shepherd? Do you believe He is able and willing to care for you? Spend a few moments this Christmas season thanking Him for all the ways He gently and lovingly cares for you.  For the Lord is your shepherd, you shall not want.

Are You Peculiar?

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If you asked most people to define the word “peculiar” you would get some variation of this: “something or someone who is odd, strange, unusual or weird.” Most people would not appreciate being called peculiar. It definitely has a negative connotation in our current culture.

But looking at the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, I find the following:

Peculiar – One’s own; belonging solely or especially to an individual; not possessed by others; of private, personal, or characteristic possession and use; particular; individual; special; appropriate.

Our modern culture has shifted this word, peculiar, to mean something to be avoided or kept at a distance. No one wants to be called peculiar. They don’t wish to appear odd or strange. Most people would rather blend in and be inconspicuous.

But in the King James version of 1 Peter 2:9 we read, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This doesn’t mean strange or weird, it means they belong to God. Peculiar comes from the Latin word peculium which means “private property.”

We are a peculiar people! We belong to God. We are His and no one else’s. He claims us as His own. And maybe to the world that looks strange or weird. If belonging to God makes me seem strange to the world, so be it!

If following after Christ means you stick out and look different than the world, is that okay with you? How peculiar are you willing to be? Will you stand firmly on the fact that you have been chosen by God, no matter how that looks to the world?

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points

spiral-1_21168872Do you remember geometry class? The shortest distance between two points is…a straight line, right? In a basic sort of way, that’s the correct answer. There are situations that are the exception but they can  get complicated and we could examine them for a long time.

For the sake of discussion, let’s consider the answer to be a straight line.

So let’s talk about obedience for a moment. If God speaks to you and you know that there is something you are supposed to do, or not do, what do you do? Do you respond instantly and agree to follow God’s direction and obey Him or do you stall and make excuses about why you can’t do what the Lord has asked?

I can tell you what I have found myself doing at times. If you’ve seen the movie The Wizard of Oz, you will remember the scene where Dorothy is in Munchkin Land and is beginning her walk down the yellow brick road. She starts at the center and makes a spiral round and round until she’s finally on the straight road to Oz.  Consider for a moment the reverse of that walk, with the goal at the center. What I’ve found myself doing is to start from where I stand, seeing the place God has directed me at a distance in front of me and instead of making the decision to move directly toward the goal, I walk around and around it. Looking at it from all sides, I consider it and gradually move closer to the goal but in a slow spiral. I know I’ll eventually make my way to the center and obey God but I take my time getting there.

But is that obedience? Not really. Delayed obedience really isn’t obedience at all. As a parent, I expect my children to obey my directives without procrastinating. I believe it’s a sign of respect. Doesn’t God deserve that respect from us in every situation? Doesn’t He deserve immediate obedience in all things?

So back to our geometry lesson. The shortest distance between two points? The place where I am and the place God has directed me to go? A straight line.

Obedience is always a straight line.

Just as a servant knows that he must first obey his master in all things, so  the surrender to an implicit and unquestionable obedience must become the  essential characteristic of our lives.” ~ Andrew Murray

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.  John 14:15