“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them, then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23 NIV
God is looking at the heart. What we truly are and think is deep inside of us. Where no one but God can see. We can come across one way on our outward positioning, but what’s in our hearts is the true person. God has called us to love all people better than ourselves. He has told us that whatever it takes, we should be at peace with all men. That’s tough! It takes a lot of patience to get along with even the best of people. It doesn’t take much to get under our skin. To rub us the wrong way. There is no way in and of ourselves. God has to open our eyes to the way he loves others. He loves with such passion no matter what someone looks or acts like. He looks deeper to the lonely scared child that just wants to be loved and accepted. This person is his. He wants us to be there for others. Brothers and sisters making it together. This is more important than offering things. Money, time, devotion come in second place to people. That is why he has called us to care for widows and orphans, sick and hungry, and those who can’t take care of themselves. We may be their only hope. God can do all things but he uses us. He has given us a privilege to be apart of his bigger plan. When he was on earth all manner of sick, both mental and physical, came to him, their only hope for help. They didn’t know if he could or would help but they had to try. And ,Jesus had compassion. He saw their very soul and every hurt they had and he loved them so. That is why he doesn’t like sin. Because they hurt his beloved children. Those that he greatly cares about. Things like adultery, murder, stealing. All commands affect others wellbeing or loving and honoring God. Love covers over every action. If we just love the way he tells us to do we will have it down. We can not change the way others act, try as we may. Their behavior is between them and God. But if we just take a deep breath and ask God for help we can be the best we can be. You never know how your actions will greatly affect others around you.
Will you see others through God’s eyes of compassion?
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it.” Jeremiah 17:9 NIV
I’ve heard it said many times, “just follow your heart.” Is that really good advice? The heart can be wrong. Remember we are fallen, sinful people. Our hearts are only as good as the stuff we put in them. Out of the heart the mouth speaks and it’s not all good. Maybe you were raised by an abusive alcoholic and knew hate. Or you have been belittled as a child and bullied. To the point that you hate yourself and don’t feel love or that you could ever love. Maybe you are tormented by thoughts of suicide. No hope and tired of hurting. No we can not understand everyone’s heart because we haven’t walked a mile in their shoes. But God can. He knows everyone and everything they’ve done and been through. He still loves them very much. They matter to him and he doesn’t want to see them hurting . If we seek to do the will of God he can and will show us how to help. The most important thing I have learned from the church I go to is to help people, especially the marginalized. Find a need and fill it. In doing that you are doing what Christ would do if he was here on earth. We are his hands and feet. He knows who needs help and he will show that to someone who cares. People need so many things. Food, a safe and warm bed, clothes for their family, a friend, sometimes it’s more complicated if the are addicted or homeless. But there are always ways to help them. Jesus is in the business of meeting needs. He wants us to be the same way. He also wants us to fuel our hearts with all good things to help us have good hearts. Things like praying, reading the Bible, and other positive and uplifting things like singing praises and listening to good music. Or watching good movies and programs. If the stuff getting into our hearts is good and wholesome, our hearts will be also. Have a desire to love others. Be deliberate in what you do and say. You can make a big difference in the world around you. You can make an impact.
What can you do or say to help?
“Am I now trying to win approval of human beings, or of God? If am I trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 NIV
Motives. Motive is very important to God. He does not look at outward appearances but only to our hearts. So is that not the most important. In this busy world we live in we are trying so hard to be happy, but we also want to make others happy with us. No one wants others not to like us. We do things to please different people. But what is truly important? What are we called to do? Let’s look at Jesus because he is our perfect example, and who we should strive to be like every day. When he was alive here on earth he helped us see physically what God was like. He told us the most important thing was to love God with our whole being. Also we should love others, All others better than ourselves. Two of the greatest commandments. Now Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer and telling us God’s ways. So we know prayer and reading the Bible are important for a good relationship with God. He did everything out of love and compassion for others, but not everyone accepted him and loved him back. The religious leaders did not like him. If Jesus, a perfect man, could not please everyone all the time then how can we? All we can try to do is to please God, first and foremost. And love everyone. Some people like friends and family are easy to love but not everyone. Maybe they are poor, homeless, or handicapped, of different nationalities or rich and famous. They are still part of the all people group and God will help us to love and respect them, because he loves them. They are important to him. We should not be people pleaser’s but God pleaser’s. If we please he then we will also be pleasing to others. We can’t please everyone so don’t try. I am performing for an audience of one, God. Doing that helps others and myself. Doing things for myself helps with my attitude. Getting plenty of rest, eating right and doing nice things for myself helps me to be all that I can be for God.
Who are you trying to please?
“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.” Psalms 103:17&18 NIV
What a wonderful promise. Let’s break this down so we can understand better just what he is saying. He has always shown love to his children. But he says those who fear him. Does that make sense? We don’t actually fear him. We need to greatly respect and revere him and all that he is. He is to be looked up to for his might and awesome power. When we humbly fear him he will look out for us and our children. As a parent he understands how we want the very best for our children. We want them to be healthy, wise, and happy with the life God has given them. But read on and you will see an if. We have to do our part. This does not come by doing nothing. If we do something he will in turn do something. He has asked us to keep his covenant and obey his precepts. This is not much to expect from us for all he does for us. There are so many things he does for us just because he loves us. We need to love him in the same way. It is not hard and he offers to help us so no excuses. Let’s say if you write me a story I will pay you $20. Well that sounds great but what will you write about? You get no help it’s all up to you. That might not be so easy after all. But God always offers us help. He has said come to me and ask for wisdom. He will give it to everyone. If you just ask it’s yours. Then you need to take him up on his offer and ask. It’s so easy if you just seek him first. Along with his love he offers so much. Good will come to you. Bad health problems will stay away from you. You will be the head and not the tail. You will be strong. You will be wise. You will find favor among men. Your prayers will be answered. No negative things will come against you. Not emotionally, not mentally, not physically or spiritually. No negative thoughts will come against you. Past hurts and problems will cease. You are surrounded by miracles. You will have power you never knew before. I don’t know about you but this sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Talk to him, worship him, hang out with like-minded people, and read his words. That gives you wisdom.
Don’t you want to be loved so lavishly?
“…you do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:2-3 NIV
Whenever you need something come before God. Even though he knows our needs before we ask does not mean that we do not need to ask. The Lord loves to answer our prayers when we ask. If it is important to you it is important to God. Don’t think you are bothering God, or that it is too petty to take before God. Everything you tend to worry about, or get anxious about is important to give to God. It is important to be specific about what you need. Tell God what’s wrong but you don’t need to tell him how to fix it. He may not do things exactly how you see them as being done. He knows us because he designed us. He knows exactly what is best for us. Just because he does not answer immediately just the way you think he should does not mean he’s not listening. He will always answer. In his time, in his way, and always what is best for the person involved. If it’s not for my best, I don’t want it. I trust him. I don’t always understand why someone is not healed, or dies when I had been praying for them. Like when my grandson died just before his fourth birthday. I had prayed for him to be healed every day, but he died. Sure it would have been great if he had been healed. But was that the best thing for him? Or was that the best thing for me? Sure I miss him and my daughter misses him but so many things tell me he is better off. He is in heaven in a perfect body with No pain forever. All his Tay-Sachs friends are with him and they’re all perfect . His grandfather, who always wanted grandkids but died before any were born , and his great grandpa are with him. He’s with Jesus. There is something I have learned about prayer. I always ask God if I can be a part of what he is doing in the world. I want to make a positive impact on the world. He showed me I can do that by praying. Praying puts me in miracle territory. When ever you pray for needs you get to be apart of the miracle when those needs are met. In my prayer life I have seen so many prayers answered in such unique and special ways. Just recently a friend and minister from camp was on his death bed with covid19. On a ventilator and unconcious. Drs we’re giving up. But two weeks later he’s up and walking with a walker. This has brought boldness to my prayers. When I see great answers I get excited and pray for more. It is a privilege to come before God and see him answer.
Do you know someone who needs prayer today?
These two words have sent people running from God because he wants to take away the good life. Right? Who wants to follow a bunch of rules? Well for me I know he asks us to follow his ways but I truly believe his desire is for us to have the very best life we can possibly have. He wants us to have a full, happy, successful life. He knows how because he knows everything especially us. He created us and the designer usually writes the owner’s manual for his product. Right. I read this week in a devotional about the “shall nots” in the Bible that most people miss. The ones that really mean the world to us who claim to be his children and had to share.
“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
“He that hearth my word, and believeth on him who sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation.”
He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
The Lord is at my right hand, I shall not be moved; Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”
There are so many more good promises in the word of God waiting to be discovered. There are over 4000 great promises for his children who live his way. Since my stroke I’ve learned so much and have so much peace. I live for him every day. He truly is my very best friend and he is always working all for my best.
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind. To reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10 NIV
According to how we act we will be rewarded. God wants everyone to have a good life. A life full and abundant. The world uses the word ‘karma’. Bringing on yourself inevitable results by good and bad character. We have been given a free will to do whatever we want. It’s all up to us. From an early age we are taught to be good. Even though we have a natural tendency toward sin because of the fall of Adam and Eve it is not true that we will be bad. Your parents are not the only ones who raise you. They may not of been the best examples to live by but there are other people teaching you good character traits. Teachers, sport coaches, churches and other good people in your life. They teach you how to interact with those around you and how to act as part of a team. Dealing with animals in a caring way. Skills in getting along with others. God has given us his words in the Bible that tell us clearly how to have a good life. The rewards for good behavior and what’s happens with bad behavior. They are spelled out very clearly. There are laws to keep us from doing bad things to others. If you don’t break the law you won’t pay the consequences. There are consequences for every action. Deep inside of us we all have a conscience that guides us. It wants us to do good and makes us feel bad inside when we do something bad. If we ignore it and repeat offenses it will grow hard. We can still change it if we want to but it will take God’s help, our creator, to change us. If we want to be blessed again and not always have problems we need to ask forgiveness and ask for help. He is always waiting right there to help. He is not expecting us to behave in a way that is impossible. He tells us the correct way and also offers us all the help we will need to do it. Knowing what is best for us and loving us unconditionally makes him the expert. He is also the one responsible for the outcome of our lives in his world. That is why I always look at the Bible as my owners manual for life. It will give answers for everything if you will just make it part of your life. Just like reading the owner’s manual for your new car will help you understand how it works best.
Have you read your owner’s manual lately?
It’s the big day. Thousands of years went into the details of this big moment. As families we spare no expense to have that one perfect moment. A wedding, a graduation, a birth, so many special moments. But this day was planned for longer and harder than others. Think of this family, for a moment, the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. They were together for so long before the world ever began. They spent time talking of all the details. What would it be like to have a huge family to love. Their expertise was love and they had to share it. It had to be free to be, not required. A love given and accepted and given in return. What would this world need. I can image the hours of chats and the special times as a family together planning. Then what would we do when they rejected us and did their own thing. What about sin? Sin had to be dealt with. Someone or something had to pay. God is just and he is perfect, so he needed a perfect plan. I imagine them putting there heads together to come up with a plan. Dad why don’t I go to earth as an example of your love. I can live with man and teach them so much about you and your ways. I can do so much good. Sin means death so I will pay for everyone’s sin with my life and go to hell for them. This was a good plan. But it would take time. So when Adam and Eve sinned God took an innocent lamb and slaughtered it to cover their shame. He taught the people how to cover their own sins by taking an innocent lamb, perfect and precious and slaughter it in their place. God was so proud of his son. He would do this willingly so that we could be together forever. One day everyone would be together where death was no more and everything would be perfect just as it was meant to be. This plan would have so many details but it would be worth it. They also knew that Satan would just give anything to destroy the son of God. That would work to their desired end. Satan would never envision that he was working right into their hands. Then that special day came for Jesus to leave. They had been together for so long. The big three had shared so much it had to be hard. Saying by for now. Jesus was giving up so much. His power, his glory, the closeness they all shared. He was starting out as an innocent, helpless baby. His new family was young, poor, scared and alone. They were to be a part of this great plan. How exciting! It was hard but God was with them. As Jesus grew he always spent time with his family in prayer. He needed that strength now more than ever. As a man he had trials and needs that could easily distract him. He had to stick to the plan perfectly. It was easy to have compassion as he did have that perfect love living in him but the physical challenges of being about all his fathers business could wear him out at times. These people really were messed up. They really needed help. Couldn’t they see. Our ways are so much better. If they just tried it they would know. It was frustrating at times. But Friday came and the overwhelming responsibility came and was hard it was real and scary. If there could be any other way. No, he grew strong in God his father. He would do this and God would be with him. He looked out into the future. Lives flashed before his eyes, not one, not two, but billions. His joy was real. He did this for us. It made him stronger. With each lash and each second he had eternity on his mind. Then came the moment when sin was so great upon him that his own father could look no longer. He turned away. All of heaven was hushed as they watched him take his last breath. The earth rumbled and the veil was torn once and for all. It was finished. Sin would no longer have control. He was placed in the tomb. Jesus the sinless lamb carried all the sin of the world. Every last one into death for each of us. Something too impossible for us to imagine. Death, hell, torment forever was taken away for us never to experience. Jesus did not deserve this but he would do it again if he had to. We were worth it. With the belief in Jesus work and when we are sorry for the sin that has control over our lives he has offered us his gift. We can be born again. We have the opportunity to be new. To be brothers and sisters, to have access to the three 24/7 everything they are is ours. Joy is the greatest. We are no longer a nobody, but are somebody to the king. We receive power and authority as children of the king. Our lives will never, and should never be the same. And we can live in the house of the Lord forever.
Do you wish to accept this awesome gift? To die to the old you and be made brand new?
“Do you not know that in a race that all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Revelations 22:12 NIV
Have you ever done something you were not proud of? I wish I could go back and change things. We all make mistakes. Maybe we said something that hurt someone. Done something that hurt others. When it’s done we feel bad. But God loves us even when we don’t love ourselves. If we come to him and ask forgiveness, he will forgive. That bad feeling will go and be replaced by peace. We don’t need to carry it anymore. His love can bring so much healing. What if you were gone tomorrow? You know tomorrow is not promised to any of us. We could have a massive heart attack, or a car accident. With the world spiraling out of our control, I see us as a big cage of rats going nuts. Is what we are doing really helping? What if Jesus came tonight to take his children home? We are in the end times and it could be any day. We never know what tomorrow will bring. Today may be our last day. If you knew it was your last day on earth, what would you do differently? When we stand before Jesus and he shows us everything we have ever done. Good and bad you should be ready. What will we say? That is when I don’t want regrets. At that point it’s to late to change our fate. I want to stand before him with a clean slate. He makes that possible. We can make sure he sees us in the light of his perfect son, in all his righteousness. Either we can be perfect, or we can live every day the best we can. Seeking God’s will in our lives first. Ask Gods help to good things of encouragement. Lord show me ways to help others. He has made me a good listener. I am very aware of the needs of others around me, and he lets me know what to do and say. If I can’t help I can find someone who can. He has given me the gift of writing. He gives me words to help others. He will show me just what they need to hear. It’s not me, it’s him helping me. The more I try to serve, the more he shows me to do. He will do the same for you. Every time we do something that we know is wrong, we need to come to him and ask for forgiveness. At the end of the day we need to look back over the day. What good did i do? What bad did I do? Keep the lines of communication open. Thank you Lord for this day. I am sorry for ….. You will sleep so much better with a clear heart. I have also seen a cage full of rats that were all snuggled up close to each other sound asleep. We all need to take care of each other. To love each other.
Will you be rewarded for your actions?
“Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your laws.“ Psalms 119:18
Over the last several years God has opened my eyes greatly to several truths and things in his laws. In 2013 I set out to seek the Lord with all of my heart. I made a deliberate effort to pray every day and to read my Bible daily. Those were my two main goals. I still keep those goals every day but it is habit now. If I forget the day just doesn’t go as good. I know God doesn’t expect perfection from us. But even if I realize it at 10:00pm I can’t sleep till it’s done. I used to get up early in the morning and go outside to pray. That was nice but three years ago I had surgery and it took a lot to recover from it. So I began sleeping in. So I would pray before getting up. Now I relish that time I have to just talk to God for an hour or two and hear him speak to me. He has shown me how important praying is. Lately I’m wanting to be bolder and ask more from God. I see it as a privilege to get to pray for others and to see God working in their lives. I see miracles happening all around me. It feels so indulgent at times laying in bed but God has shown me so much lately. I have also read through the Bible several times over the last 15 years and those words are getting seared into my brain. His laws are important. He gave them to us for our good. Each law has a purpose. By following them we will live a better life. Without them we would be lost. I know that people see that laws as restricting us from freedom. But I do not wish to be free to screw up my life. I have had my eyes opened to his ways. Another way he has opened my eyes is in worship. I love to sing and love music. I listen to praise music often because it lifts me up. One day I went from singing along not really thinking about the words. Then ‘Pow’. One day I heard every word and what it meant to the writer, and now I sing with passion and understanding in my heart. Praise and worship will never be the same. He has shown me a great love for his ways. I can lay around in the mornings and get so inspired by how great and awesome our God is.
Do you understand and try to keep his laws?