Jeremiah 31:1-3 This is what the Eternal has to say:
Eternal One: There will come a time when I will be the God of all the clans and families of Israel, and they will be My people. This is what I, the Eternal One, declare to you:
My people who survived the sword
found grace as they wandered in the wilderness;
When Israel went in search of rest,
I appeared to them from far away and said:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love--
out of faithfulness I have drawn you close. (VOICE)
Sometimes we find ourselves "in a pickle." We've ended up somewhere from which we're not sure we can return. Perhaps it is caused by the actions of another. The fallout from living in a fallen world. It may also be the personal consequences we experience, like that of a rebellious teenager determined to get their way - at whatever cost.
While wandering in our spiritual wilderness, we too can again find favor. If we seek God, no matter how long we have kept Him at a distance, He will appear to us from far away.
Our Faithful Father's love did not end when our rebellion began. His Holy Spirit calls to us. When we listen and follow Jesus, He will lead us out of the wilderness back home into the loving out-stretched arms of our Heavenly Father.
Romans 5:8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (HCSB)
Father, I pray You help those in the wilderness to respond to You when they hear Your Spirit lovingly calling us back into Your loving arms. Help them to trust Your Son Jesus to lead them home.
2 Chronicles 7:14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves
and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven
and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (NLT)
In a society where personal truth reigns supreme and where individual liberty is god, the need to repent is a tough "sell."
Everyone from politicians to preachers can testify the fact that we have major social problems. And they are growing daily. The proverbial slope is getting slipperier, yet few are willing to look up and grab hold of the only One who can keep us from crashing at the bottom.
The thought of a need for repentance is an offense to most. Hearing that it is a necessity is like listening to a language not our own - the idea is foreign to us. We tell ourselves things like, "I'm not that bad." or, "At least I'm not as bad as...." When, in fact, in our heart, we are saying, "I will determine if I am a sinner."
Read below, The Voice translation of how Jesus clarified the issue with His response in Luke 13:2-5:
Jesus: 2 Do you think these Galileans were somehow being singled out for their sins, that they were worse than any other Galileans, because they suffered this terrible death? 3 Of course not. But listen, if you do not consider God’s ways and truly change, then friends, you should prepare to face His judgment and eternal death.
4 Speaking of current events, you’ve all heard about the 18 people killed in that building accident when the tower in Siloam fell. Were they extraordinarily bad people, worse than anyone else in Jerusalem, so that they would deserve such an untimely death? 5 Of course not. But all the buildings of Jerusalem will come crashing down on you if you don’t wake up and change direction now. (VOICE)
Lord help us to see our need to turn to You with repentant hearts and let our nation be restored.
Psalm 89:1 I will sing about the Lord’s faithful love forever;
I will proclaim Your faithfulness to all generations with my mouth. (HCSB)
When we are traveling the seas of life and find ourselves in rough waters, like the disciples in the boat with Jesus, it's easy to allow fear and uncertainty to cause us to fall into despair.
As the disciples scrambled around the boat, Jesus was asleep in the hull. Amazed that He could be sleeping, the disciples awakened Jesus. His followers wondered how He could rest when they were in such distress. Didn't He realize how dire their situation was?
Though the storms battering against our faith may be fierce and unrelenting, it is imperative that we keep it anchored in Jesus Christ. His faithful love will see us through, knowing we can trust in His promises.
We may have to face health issues, relationship difficulties, financial hardship. We may have memories of storms from the past that cause us distress. We don't have to allow ourselves to become submerged under the rising tides of life.
Jesus calmed the winds, the rain, and the seas for the disciples on the boat. He can calm the waves and provide shelter in our storms as well when we follow their example. Call on Jesus. His faithful love endures forever.
Jesus, we call on you today. Trusting Your faithful love
to protect us from any storm we may face today.
We all have our fair share of problems in this life. Like Job, to some, it may seem like we've gotten more than our fair share. Whether it be health, financial, relational or spiritual, the Lord assures us that we will have trouble. He doesn't leave us there to trudge through life in despair. Our loving Father assures us in John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (NLT)
God is our solid foundation when we face all the assaults that life throws our way. He is our Solid Rock, our Refuge in the storms of life. Today, Mr. Hughes says he believes that distance is a Christian's biggest problem. - The distance we allow (or cause) between God and us. We should have the same attitude as Job - "though He slays me, I will trust Him." Because Job remained close to God, he was able to trust Him with His life.
I must ask myself, "Why would I allow distance to come between God and me?" I believe it is the evidence of the root of every sin - pride.
Psalm 85:8 I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying,
for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
But let them not return to their foolish ways.
The first three of the Ten Commandments is a description of a right relationship with God. We are to acknowledge Him as Creator and put Him above everything else. I believe the sin of pride precedes every other sin. It lures us into putting ourselves before God. Pride is the sin that leads to what Mr. Hughes believes is our biggest problem. It is what keeps us from living a fulfilled life - distance from God.
Lord help us to do as David instructed in 1 Chronicles 22:19 -
"Now determine in your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God."
Proverbs 18:3 When a wicked man comes, contempt also does,
and along with dishonor, disgrace. (HCSB)
I find it interesting that as the final chapter of what has been a very long political season begins, my reading today includes this verse from Proverbs and it addresses what happens when "wickedness comes."
Author Selwyn Hughes, suggests that to get and keep political power one must follow two major principles. The first - let nothing, least of all truth and honor to interfere with success. The second - be honest in the little things and bold and dishonest in the large ones. There have indeed been wicked political powers throughout the history of civilization. In the Old Testament, we can read the list of kings who "did what was evil" We also find the honorable kings who loved the Lord and "did what was right" in His sight. Like David, they still managed to do wicked things.
We need not look far to find wickedness on both sides of the aisle (as well as on either side and in the middle.) Wickedness resides in the heart of every man and woman. To deny it would be declaring God a liar. If we are unable to see the evil in our hearts how can we recognize it in the heart of another? No candidate is without character flaws - none of us are. As a Christian, I must strive to live my life in truth and integrity. As a citizen I must seek the same (and recognize when it is lacking) in the person, I select to lead my country.
The Lord may or may not allow a "wicked king" to come into power. If that is His will, it will be to fulfill His purpose, which could include giving us what we ask for - (and perhaps what we deserve.) When making a final selection in November, I cannot be blind to my own arrogance. Thinking I "know" the best person for the job. Only God knows that.
I pray that God gives me wisdom when I vote. Jesus is my King - I will follow His lead. I pray that my vote is in agreement with His will and that He will give us a President, who will lead, protect, and unite us - with truth and integrity.
1 Corinthians 4:2 Because we are in this particular role, it is especially important that we are people of fidelity and integrity. (VOICE)
Job 38:33 Do you know the laws of the universe and how the heavens influence the earth? (TLB)
Have you ever felt like you have your life under control? I have. We are told that we need to take control of our life, our finances, and our futures. To function in a civil society, it's necessary to keep our emotions in check so as not to let them control us.
Self-discipline is the key factor in whether our life is chaotic and dysfunctional, or not. The truth, however, is that God is the only one ultimately in control. Every single individual has a particular role to fill in the universe. The role we fill, our influence, and our destiny - God already knew before He gave us life. He was, and continues to be the one who has already determined our destiny.
It is within His authority as God of the universe.
"If He's in control, why does sickness, suffering, evil, and death occur?" is the weak rebuttal from those who, at best question His authority, and at worst, question His very existence.
He is the potter. We are clay in His hands to use for His purposes. In His authority, He chose to give us the free will. His number one command is that we "Love Him and have no other gods before Him." By His power, He could compel us to love and serve Him. He desires that we offer Him our love and worship.
In His wisdom, He chose not to do so knowing authentic love is love freely given.
Therefore, I accept stewardship of the things he's given to me to manage to the best of my God-given ability. There will be some things I can control and some things I can't. I can and should, try to influence when His Spirit leads. But the outcomes and purposes remain unknown to us until He chooses to reveal them.
Romans 3:6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.
But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and (NLT)
My free-will gives me authority to give up control over my life, to Him. Each morning, as I lift my prayers to Him, He responds - "Trust Me. I got this."
Therefore, with humility, set aside all moral filth and the growth of wickedness, and welcome the word planted deep inside you—the very word that is able to save you.
Common English Bible (CEB)
My heart is not pure. My inherent sin defiles it.
This fact is a confession that I must make every day, or risk the deception that comparison into which the world lures me. It is easy to look at the evil in the world and tell myself, "At least I'm not that bad." God's word tells me, I am that bad.
It's what we tend to do. We compare. We size up ourselves against others and yes, we judge. Most of the time, if I'm honest, I make the comparisons for entirely selfish reasons. My purpose may come out of a quest for excellence. But it is not a pure motive if it involves comparing the level of my bar with that of someone else. My motivation is pride.
Comparison to Jesus is my only hope. His perfect love shines the light on my utter depravity and eliminates any prideful inclinations. His Word shows me how I am to live holiness.
A purified heart is not something I can achieve - or even desire, on my own. It is the gift Christ died to give us so that we may see God.
Psalm 19:14 May the words that come out of my mouth and the
musings of my heart meet with Your gracious approval,
O Eternal, my Rock,
O Eternal, my Redeemer.
The Voice (VOICE)
Proverbs 17:22 A joy-filled heart is curative balm,
but a broken spirit hurts all the way to the bone. The Voice (VOICE)
Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it certainly ranks at the top of the list. When I feel sad, angry, or afraid, when I've been in deep emotional, and yes, even severe physical pain, I've found relief in laughter.
Sometimes the cares of this life are serious. Often, however, we take things and people, (and ourselves) far too seriously. It is foolish to suggest that we skip through life ignoring our hurts, cares, concerns and responsibilities.
But when I choose to look to Jesus I can find joy in Him when there is no joy in my heart. When I look to Him, I take my eyes off of myself, my sadness, sorrow, and disappointments.
There will always be troubles, trials, and tragedies in this fallen world. When I can laugh in spite of them, I deny satan the power to use his very powerful and effective tool - depression.
May the joy of the Lord fill us with His Holy Spirit,
bring healing, and enable us to laugh in spite of pain.
Proverbs 17:20 The crooked heart will not prosper;
the lying tongue tumbles into trouble. NLT
Stretching the truth, (otherwise know as lying) seems to have become socially acceptable. In business and our personal lives, embellishment has become "strategic marketing."
Integrity and honesty used to go hand in hand and were once required if one hoped to gain respect. Today, however, one gets recognition for the number of "likes" received or the volume of hits on a Youtube page. On occasion, the recognition is for things that are uplifting, wholesome - true. Unfortunately, all too often, the more offensive the content, the more it is shared. It truly does become a "virus."
As society moves toward indecency, incivility, and violence, lying has become commonplace. Though we make every attempt to make it so, darkness can never become light. Light exposes what hides in the dark. Lies to hide indiscretions, embellishments on resumes, intentional omissions on tax returns - every lie is evidence of our the depravity of humankind. "Everybody does it." "It's okay as long as nobody gets hurt." these are the lies we use to justify behavior we know to be suspect.
In the July 13 devotion of Every Day with Jesus, Mr. Hughes' summary states:
"The universe is made for the same thing as we are - namely, righteousness. not only the face of the Lord but the face of the universe is set against those who live below its standards."
May we all strive to live above the poverty level standard of a world of unrighteousness.
Acts 13-38-39 “Brothers, listen! We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. 39 Everyone who believes in him is made right in God’s sight—something the law of Moses could never do. NLT
The simple answer is, "No." God loves us and does not reject us. But as with most relationships, it's not that simple.
He is a Holy God. Though His will never reject us, He must, in His Holiness, reject sin. It is we, in making our decision to sin, who are the one's rejecting Him. We are the one's who damage the relationship when we rebel against His authority.
Why does He get to make the rules? - Because His is God.
He is the Creator of the universe and everything in it. The rules on how to live in it and how it operates best are His alone to make.
We show our imperfect love for Him through our obedience and submission to His authority. He demonstrated His perfect love through His Son Jesus Christ. He offers His love daily, through the grace that he extends to us when we return to Him in repentance.
His love is always free for us to accept or reject.
What choice are you going to make today?
My utmost journey of devotion has taken a different route for awhile. On my current journey, I am on a walk in the Every Day with Jesus Daily Bible. As you can see from the day of my last entry, I halted sharing my devotions for far too long. Though my writings ceased, I remained on my journey of faith.
In contrast to My Utmost..., Every Day with Jesus by Selwyn Hughes has scripture passage readings from both Old and New Testaments, as well as from Psalms and Proverbs. Each reading ends with a short prayer, a devotion, and provides additional scriptures for further study.
With so much instruction to read and absorb, and the time restraints of daily life, I failed to share this new journey on which God is leading me.
Under conviction and after much prayer, I begin again sharing this daily journey. Refreshed, renewed, and determined, this is my first entry on this journey that began last November.
Today, the author asks us to consider how God has revealed Himself to us and what our picture of God is. God, through His word reveals Himself as my Creator, Provider, Protector, my Heavenly Father, and my Savior. I envision Him to be radiant, beautiful, kind, gentle, holy, and just. - With His hand reaching out to me.
How do you see God?
If the Lord blesses You through as you read what He's shown me, please bless Him in return by commenting or sharing as you feel Him leading you.
Thank you for reading and God Bless.
Melinda started her fifth year of her devotions reading Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest. In 2015 she has made the commitment to share what this year's journey. Taking a detour, she began living Every Day With Jesus