Security – Safe in Our Father’s Hands – Never Lost

Sometimes we are given reminders that everything is safe in our Father’s hands. Whatever we commit to our Heavenly Father remains secure — never lost. Security ranks among humanities highest needs.

Although fathers are worthy of honour everyday, we set aside a specific day each year to honour both natural and spiritual fathers for the influence and impact they have. God used this Father’s Day to demonstrate how vast His father heart is for us.

One of my favourite verses declares the security we have in God, our Father.

“I will not in any way fail you
nor give you up nor leave you without support.
I will not. No, I will not.
I will not in any degree leave you helpless
nor forsake nor let you down,
relax My hold on you.
Assuredly not!”
Hebrews 13:5b AMP

Now that is security!

Never Lost

My father passed away 24 years ago. Shortly after, I inherited a necklace he had given my mother untold years before. The delicate gold chain suspended a small heart with the letter “V” nestled at the base. Since my father had accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour a short time before his death, that little necklace became a personal reminder of God’s faithfulness. The “V” symbolized both the power of prayer and the victory we have in Jesus.

Whenever pressures, disappointments or discouragement clouded my life, I would wear that little necklace as a prophetic prayer act, declaring God’s victory over my situation.

In October 2017, I travelled to Calgary, Alberta to receive accreditation for ministry — a significant step in my spiritual calling. But somehow that necklace and a pair of gold earings went missing in the hotel room. 

To no avail, I searched through every pocket and fold trying to find my keepsake. Several times over these last 20 months, I have released my loss to God, but confessed, “Lord, I really want my necklace back.” 

On Father’s Day, I had prepared for church adding a pair of butterfly earrings as a final touch. Just before leaving the house, I felt compelled to return to the little jewellery box. When I opened the lid, I noticed a fine gold chain looped across the top of the contents. 

“What is this?” I asked as I reached for the chain. Gasping through tears of disbelief, I held again my “lost” keepsake in my hand.

“Of Daddy,” I said to my Heavenly Father, “You have given back what was lost.”

Kept Safe

Was it lost? Or was it kept safe just out of sight? I have no idea how that little chain appeared in my jewellery box. Was it always there? Concealed, waiting to be revealed? If so, how did I miss seeing it for so long? I may never know the answers.

One thing I know for sure, God used this little token of my earthly father’s love, to touch my heart in a new way. I became immediately aware that nothing is ever lost, but rather kept safe in our Father’s hands.

God who holds all creation by the power of His Word, on Father’s Day, gave His little child back a special gift inherited from her father. Everything is held secure by God. Everything!

God’s greatest gift came in the form of a baby, Jesus Christ. He was given to live holy and blameless, to die for sins He never committed, and to rise again to give life to all who would believe.

“For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

Later when the Jews attempted to discredit and slander Jesus, He said about those who would follow Him, 

I give them eternal life,
and they shall never perish;
no one will snatch them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me,
is greater than all;
no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
John 10:28-29

What security! We are safe in our Father’s hands!

Security

The most precious thing of all is the human soul. Gold or silver holds no value in comparison. Wealth and power are meaningless in contrast.

Yet this little incident reminded me how great and amazing God is. How He sees us — knows us so intimately, caring about even the simplest and most insignificant aspects of our lives. Why did He choose Father’s Day to return this little treasure that holds little value to anyone but me? 

In it He revealed something deeper about His character. I have known Him as

Protector and Provider,
 my Refuge in the storm
the One who sustains and delivers,
the Shepherd who leads me,
my Healer and Restorer,
the Strength of my life.

But in a fresh way, I see and know Him as the One who loves personally and cares deeply about every “lost” part of our lives: lost years or opportunities, lost love or relationship, lost hope or purpose, lost dreams or desires.

“I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad
and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure.”
Psalm 16:8-9

Safe in our Father’s hands.

Safe

Real safety cannot be found in this twisted, shaking world. Yet, God offers us the assurance that our security is sealed in Him.

“…When you believed,
you were marked in him with a seal,
the promised Holy Spirit.”
Ephesians 1:13

“Marked in him with a seal!” A seal verifies and validates authentic identity. It figuratively means to secure to someone, make sure, and deliver to safety.” 

Safe, secure and protected! Nothing remains lost with God. All that we entrust to Him is kept infinitely secure. 

Psalm 91 begins with a declaration of dwelling, resting and trusting in God. The last half of this psalm is God’s response to such confidence in Him.

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD,
“I will rescue him; I will protect him,
for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honour him.
With long life I will satisfy him and
show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:14-16

An unusual word for “love” appears here. It presents the idea of “holding close to or hugging tightly in love.”

Holding Close

These promises are for those who “hold close” to God, “hugging” Him tightly in love. His love for us is incomparably more than any holding close or hugging tightly we may offer. Yet, He sees, values and rewards our reach toward Him — reaching even in loss.

The return of my little heart necklace symbolizes many “losses” I continue to pray will some day be restored in my life or the lives of others:

lost health while battling cancer and disease;
lost trust through adultery or betrayal;
sons and daughters lost to addictions;
dreams lost through unforeseen circumstance;
lost innocence or hope.

At the same time, the return of my necklace reminds us that nothing is ever fully lost, but kept safe in our Father’s hands. He waits for the perfect time, the exact day, the premise moment to restore to each of us all that was lost.

But now, we position ourselves,holding closely to Him, hugging tightly in His love” and praying, “God, I want my lost back.”

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The Love of God! What More Do We Want?

The love of God is more than enough to satisfy the deepest longing and hunger of the human heart! A cry rises unabated within the church today for “more”. But what “more” do we want?

Is the Christian church of North America occupied by “spiritual” consumerism or is this plea for “more” birthed from a completely different source?

Giver or Taker

There is within every believer the competing agendas of giver and taker. Inherent personal needs demand to be satisfied; while godly desire delights to confer on others.

Peter and John came upon a lame beggar. His hand stretched toward them expecting support.

“Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have,
but what I do have I give you.
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
walk.”
Acts 3:6

Children giving

Peter offers him much more than an hand out! Grasping the man firmly, he offers a hand up!

Taking him by the hand,
he helped him up and
instantly the man’s feet and ankles
became strong.”
Acts 3:7

Offering money rather than messy love would have been easier! Tangibly reaching others is far more costly than parting with pocket coins. Love costs! Sometimes deeply!

This was but one cry among a multitude of other voices. Meeting this man’s unspoken need, God gave “more”.

A Different Cry

The cry among North American Christians contradicts the voice surging Godward from many other nations.

“We love You, Lord!” is the anthem heard in the developing world.  Whereas, the prayerful expression  in North America calls, “We want more, Lord!”

Enduring love

One day the unified voice from every nation, tribe and tongue will speak,

“And they sang a new song, saying:
You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood
you purchased for God persons
from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
Revelation 5:9

People from nations far and near lift a song of love and exaltation without contradiction before God’s throne!

I Love You

“Love” in the English language expresses multiple meanings!

  • “I love you, Grandma” might mean “I want another cookie”, or “take me to the park”.
  • “I love you” could be the manipulative voice from someone refusing the commitment of marriage but desiring the benefits.
  •  One might even feel the pressure to say “I love you” out of obligation.

Unfortunately, we use the same word, “love”, for ice cream, animals, and sunsets, as we do for the deepest, most intimate relationships. No wonder confusion exists!

Sacrificial love

Beyond a doubt, the one thing this world needs more of is love — genuine love that comes only from God!

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another,
for love comes from God.
Anyone who loves
is a child of God and knows God.

But anyone who does not love
does not know God, for God is love.
G
od showed how much he loved us
by sending his one and only Son into the world
so that we might have eternal life through him.

This is real love—not that we loved God,
but that he loved us
and sent his Son as a sacrifice
to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much,
we surely ought to love each other.”
1 John 4:7-11

John, “the beloved”, understood! Such knowledge left him crying, “More, Lord, more!”

Much Love

“Vines Expository Dictionary” explains the differences in the biblical Greek words for love.

In my Father's steps

“Agapao” describes the attitude of God toward His Son, humanity, and those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. It also includes God’s desire concerning our attitude toward each other.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8

God and others are to be the primary recipients of this love that moves beyond impulse or feelings! This love runs contrary to natural inclinations — never self-seeking. Originating from God, it does not spend itself only upon those who will reciprocate.

“Agapao” love values, esteems and serves!

“Phileo” represents tender affection between Father God, His Son Jesus, and believers. “Phileo” specifically demonstrated a love Christ had for His disciple, John. This love displays friendship and affection.

“No, the Father himself loves you
because you have loved me
and have believed that I came from God.”
John 16:27

“Storge” used as part of a compound word with “phileo” refers mainly to the love between parents and their children.

“Be devoted to one another in love.
Honor one another above yourselves.”
Romans 12:10

River of Love

Neil Bigpond shares about a visit with his sick mother. “I love you,” were the first words she spoke to her son. Immediately, he affirmed his mutual love for her.

Strong to protect

“Nin-zo-de-tow-yoot,” she corrected, explaining the meaning of the Yuchi word for love:

“You are like a river that brings me life.
Without you I cannot exist!”

“Nin-zo-de-tow-yoot” far surpasses, “I love you”! The Yuchi perfectly capture the deep essence both of God’s love for us and also what He desires us to emulate.

God’s love flows like a river from the depth of His very nature — an unfailing spring, rich and deep, filled with mercy and grace! Without it, truly, we cannot exist!

“Anyone who believes in me
may come and drink!
For the Scriptures declare,
Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'”
John 7:38

God fills us with his love empowering us to be

Spirit-filled,
water-giving,
love-spreading,
life-imparting
channels to others.

We gratefully immerse ourselves in the river of God’s love! Spiritual consumerism, however, has potential to warp such an extravagant flow of love when we want more from God than we are prepared to extend to others!

More Lord, More!

God’s river of love flows in unprecedented proportions in our day! All over the world, God is revealing Himself through supernatural encounters with “the Man in white”, dreams and vision, signs and wonder, healing and miracles!

Too easily we become captivated by the visible and miss the essential!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength…
Love your neighbour as yourself…”
Mark 12:30-31

Don’t get me wrong! God’s gracious outpouring upon this generation is humbling to say the least.

The rain is falling

But does the church cry for more displays of God’s power? Are we focusing on the power of God or on the God of power?

Or is there a genuine cry rising, “More Lord, more! May we be vessels of more love for You and others!”

Are we focused on God’s heart, or looking to what His hand will give? Hymn writer Francis Brook says it well,

“My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God…”

Has the church in the developed world developed an unhealthy craving for more? Or is she struggling to articulate a deep longing for more of the God we love?

No matter where we live, may we be drawn into the pure wonder — the amazing opportunity — to love God and others!

We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19

“We love You, Lord! We want more!”

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Further Reading

Rivers of Living Water From Within – The Holy Spirit

 

The First and Greatest! Keeping First Things First!


It is easy to lose focus of what deserves first and greatest recognition. The incessant pressures of life demand much of our time and our full attention. Keeping first things first takes effort! No matter what our circumstance, juggling these pressures will remain a constant struggle.

My father often admonished, “Don’t put the cart before the horse!” He was encouraging me to keep first things first. With wisdom, he gently reminded me that priorities matter. Due to the frequency of his comment, I obviously needed a consistent reminder.

 

 

Don't put the cart before the horse!

 

Unfortunately I have often forgotten! Whatever I put first gives movement and power to what follows. In keeping with my father’s analogy, a cart is virtually useless without something pulling it.

The First and Greatest

Ask a dozen people what the first or greatest priority should be and one may very well receive a dozen different opinions. An “expert in the law” approached Jesus with the question,

“Teacher, which is
the greatest commandment in the Law?” 
Matthew 22:36

Every Hebrew listener, including this legal authority, prepared to hear Jesus recite the first commandment in the law, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) Unfortunately, his driving motivation was to test Jesus rather than to seek wisdom! Jesus used the Pharisee’s twisted intentions to teach.

Jesus replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Matthew 22:37-38

Jesus reminded His listeners “loving God is the greatest!” It is beyond all else, the greatest in size and extent, in weight and importance, and in price or cost. But don’t miss it! It is not only the greatest, it also must first!

Only when the greatest occupies first place will the second commandment of loving others hold any value. Without loving God, loving others becomes impossible.

First

The bible is a love story. It begins in Genesis with a wedding in an immaculate garden, purposely positioned on planet earth, divinely placed in an harmoniously ordered universal. Why? To live, not only in love with each other, but to receive from and reciprocate love with God. God made it all for love! He did it all out of love! All of creation was because of love

 

When mankind sinned allowing separation between themselves and their greatest Lover, God already had a plan. In love He would offer His only Son, Jesus, as a perfect sacrifice for sin to regain relationship with humanity.

The bible also ends with a glorious wedding — the wedding of the bride, the church, and her Bridegroom, Jesus. Relationship eternally restored!

Marriage paints earth’s greatest image of loving intimacy. However, it is only a reflection of the love the Father has for us, his children. The love the Son has for His bride, the church, is insurmountably great! Nothing else supersedes the love of God! Nothing!

The only fitting response is to love Him in return. Not out of obedience to a required law, but because our hearts are etched permanently by His love and we can nothing else.

The Second

Recently, I was feeling emotionally and physically drained. Out of love for others, I was giving myself to family, ministry, and work. However, the once satisfying rhythm of my life seemed no longer fulfilling.

Off course!

I asked God to show me if and where my focus had veered off course. My daily routine of praying and spending time in the bible remained stable and consistent. Even here though the passion grew cold. I could feel it! I could sense it!

In reading this passage of scripture I realized my error.  I was putting “the second” first!

“And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Matthew 22:39

One version calls loving others “equally important”. I’m not sure!

Jesus clearly says loving God isthe first and greatest! As important as loving others is, it is incomparable to loving God. There is only one first! Only one greatest!

While “first” implies preeminence in place, order and time, “greatest” recognizes no equal!

Loving God is putting the horse rightfully before the cart. It is giving love a place of movement and strength. You could give me a new Lamborghini, but if that shining piece of metal doesn’t have an engine it is powerless. Loving God is like the engine that makes all other relationships function! 

Focusing on building loving community will never create unity in the body of Christ, unless our attention is drawn first to the greatest love. Misplaced priority will leave us impotent and divided! 

In Order

The only way to fulfill the second and vitally important command of loving others is by loving God first. He must come before and take precedent over every other relationship. Our love for others will be artificial and forced unless we are heart to heart in intimate and loving relationship with God. Then, like a river flowing downstream, our love for others will automatically maintain consistent motion.

“This is how we know
that we love the children of God:
by loving God and
carrying out his commands.
In fact, this is love for God:
to keep his commands.
And his commands are not burdensome.”
1 John 5:2-3

We can easily become Pharisaic in our response to others when separated from the Father’s love. Whenever doing becomes more important than being, we will fall into that trap! I am a recent example!

In all my doing, I wasn’t resting and responding from the heart of the Father. What was amiss? My first love! The order is vitally important! To experience the life of Christ tangibly within earthly relationships, God alone must occupy first place!

Like a Bride

My husband and I have been married for over 46 years. Our relationship is exclusive to all others. The love we have for our children and grandchildren is beyond explanation. We love our siblings and extended family. Nothing can adequately quantify the deep and loving relationships we experience with many others.

However, our love for each has a protective boundary defined, “You and you alone!” Within this boundary, love thrives; without it, love pays a heavy price!

Jesus rebuked the church of Ephesus,

“Yet I hold this against you:
You have forsaken
the love you had at first.”
Revelation 2:4

That word “forsaken” in the Greek doesn’t necessarily mean to totally turn your back on, abandon or desert. Rather it carries the thought of “to send forth, yield up or depart” in any measure.

I must continually ask myself, “Do I love God like I did at first? Has another love attracted my attention?”

This call to our first and greatest love is nothing new. God’s word to His people through Jeremiah reads,

“… this is what the LORD says:
I remember the devotion of your youth,
your love as a bride,
how you followed Me in the wilderness…”
Jeremiah 2:2

The Bridegroom continues to call His bride back to her first and greatest love. Will she listen? Will I? Only then will we reach new heights, individually and corporately, having the momentum to become a bride worthy of the Bridegroom.

May we focus on keeping first things first!

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Building Community – The Purpose and Power of Connections

How do we genuinely comprehend the magnitude of God’s intention for networks of friendship, bonds of community, and genuine alliances of faith? Whenever I write about community, I am walking on foreign soil! I am like an explorer mapping freshly discovered territory with the intention of others following and traversing similar terrain into healthy community relationships.

Jesus The Example

For my answers I must turn to Jesus Christ. No other human exemplified both the purpose and power of connections as Jesus. Jesus remains the benchmark of excellence! He chose his followers from the most unlike candidates who were

at times highfalutin and oft cantankerous,
more than a little rag-tag mixed with a pinch of upper crust,
self-centered and self-promoting.

Creating unity in community!

How did he solidify in these men unparalleled power-filled connection that would be reproduced through generations in spite of the unending assaults of government, church and society?

“He appointed twelve that they might be with him
and that he might send them out to preach”
Mark 3:14

I realize any group, large or small, must be built on two strong legs in order to not only walk out faith, but have the capacity to run the race Christ has established. The first is love and the second is honour. Without both of these pillars, our journey together will be crippled and distorted.

The entire purpose and power of connections is based on these two ingredients: love and honour. Yet in multiple meetings with recognized leaders, few mention either!

Love

When asked what the greatest of commandments was, Jesus minced no words!

“… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
Love your neighbour as yourself’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40

A community of love and honour!

Paul would later dissect truth further in his letter to the Corinthians. He clarifies that without love, regardless of supernatural gifts and abilities, “I am nothing…I gain nothing”!

Any endeavour at building community without love is void and impotent.

I’m not talking about the here today and gone tomorrow shadow of  love, the touchy-feely, ooey-gooey imposter of love, or the make me “look good”, “feel good”, self-seeking mutation of love.

In true community love flows from the heart of the Father permeating every activity, conversation, discipleship, and connection. It bears repeating, without it we are nothing; we gain nothing!

Honour

When love is genuine, honour will also be sincere.

Pay to all what is owed to them:
taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed,
respect to whom respect is owed,
honor to whom honor is owed.”
Romans 13:7

Paul is writing concerning how to treat those in authority. Christ always went beyond the letter of the law manifesting the heart of truth. 

Community extends honour to all!

If the purpose of honour is to give merit, distinction or worth on the basis only of rank or status, it is a faint shadow of God’s intention, contradicting Christ’s example.

We see Jesus not just honouring people with title or position, but the lowly, despised, rejected, outcast members of His society. Honour is based not on social hierarchy, but the divine attribute and worth of being God’s image bearers.

When the heart of community is honour, it infiltrates every aspect of that community elevating each member. It is impossible to truly honour God without recognizing

  His likeness in every individual
and excellence in their personal uniqueness,
seeing purpose in His divine impartation
and gifts to His children,
while acknowledging His brilliance in every life.

By honouring the one, we honour the whole. In the honour of individuals, we honour the community.

Power of Community

The synergy of love and honour united this unlikely group of The Twelve into an undeniable re-presentation of Christ on earth.

If we believe that community is for the purpose of evangelism, we begin to treat people like a number on a list. If the attempt is keeping people from walking out the revolving back door of the church, community becomes a camouflaged prison of co-dependence. It is dangerous and deceptive to tag community’s primary purpose as discipleship. We cannot succumb to creating robotic reproductions full of knowledge and void of purpose.

Community - a fellowship of worth and purpose!

On the other hand, if every community is a fellowship of love and honour, each individual develops a sense of worth and purpose in their divine existence and calling.

People naturally encouraged and drawn into intimate relationship with Jesus
directly flows out of community.
The soil of community facilitates restoration and healing.
The wandering ones find a sense belonging.
Vibrant community environments release and develop gifts and abilities.

The united power of love and honour creates the fertile soil out which The Twelve became a hundred and the hundred became thousands, multiplying into a diverse and dominant worldwide movement unified for the glory of God.

Now that is genuine community!

“For everything comes from him and exists by his power
and is intended for his glory.
All glory to him forever!
Amen.”
Romans 11:36

Building community for the glory of Christ!

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Further Reading:

Friendship – Embracing Unity While Valuing Diversity

Finding The Solution for Pressings Problems and Difficulties

Finding a Solution

We all face problems: some small, others large, a few impossible! How and where do we find a tangible solution to the towering difficulties we face? Finding resolution when the problems are enormous is what I want to look at today.

I often feel “recharged” in the prospect of finding a solution. If the problem is daunting, there may be a hesitation in my step, but generally I’ll roll up my sleeves and dig in with an attitude of “I will eat this elephant one mouthful at a time!”

When the problem appears overwhelming and insurmountable, I respond quite differently! As a matter of fact, my reaction is much like that of the early apostles.

Mountainous Problems

The Problem

The apostles had just returned from a successful but tiring ministry trip. Jesus saw their exhaustion and knew they needed rest!

When the apostles returned,
they reported to Jesus what they had done.
Then he took them with him
and they withdrew by themselves
to a town called Bethsaida,”
Luke 9:10

Why do problems erupt when we are tired and unprepared? Fatigue seems to complicate situations.

“but the crowds learned about it and followed him.”
Luke 9:11

The presence of a needy crowd escalated the problem even more. Interruptions never disturbed Jesus, however. His compassion was bigger than any crowd! When there was a need, convenient or not, Jesus made Himself available!

Jesus always had overflowing compassion!

“He welcomed them and spoke to them
about the kingdom of God,
and healed those who needed healing.”
Luke 9:11

But…

Dusk was approaching! In this remote place food was inaccessible. Jesus had healed their bodies and fed them spiritually. Now He asks the disciples for their cooperation.

“Jesus…said to Philip,
‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ ”
John 6:5

Solution #1

“Buy bread? Out here?” I can almost hear Philip’s shocked response.

All four gospels record the details of this day,  confirming a crowd of 5,000 men. The number of women would have been similar, with probably even more children. Conservative estimates would tally the crowd at around 15,000.

Have you ever had the doorbell ring fifteen minutes before mealtime, “Just dropping in for a quick visit!” Every woman knows the panic of that moment. To the fridge and pantry she scurries evaluating the potential for a quick meal.

The magnitude of this problem, however, was much larger! It would be more like opening your door to a thousand starving, weary people.

Solution 1: Send them away!

 

I love the apostle’s solution:

Send the crowd away
so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside
and find food and lodging..”
Luke 9:12

“Jesus, take the problem away!”

“It’s not my problem! Let them find a solution!”

“Send them away!”

Yep! I’ve said all that and more in flare prayer fashion to lesser emergencies! “Please Lord, make the problem go away!”

Solution #2

Jesus didn’t buy into their reasoning:

You give them something to eat.”
Mark 6:37

The ex-fishermen looked desperately for a lake and boat, while the  former tax collector checked his empty pockets. Even Dr. Luke was at a loss for a reasonable solution.

“That would take more than half a year’s wages!
Are we to go and spend that much on bread
and give it to them to eat?”
Mark 6:37

Solution 2: Send me away!

The apostles second option was “Send us away!”

“If you aren’t going to take the problem from us, then at least take us from the problem!”

I can laugh a little because right now it isn’t me! But I certainly can relate!

How many times have I tried to wiggle out of a problem God has prepared just for me? The answer, of course, is frequently! I want a way of escape instead of learning more of Him.

I have a name for these times, the pits! It is in the pit, however, where God develops my character and fashions me just a little more like Himself. If I wrangle my way out, there will be another pit coming my way soon. God loves me too much not to invest in my development.

Jesus didn’t allow the Apostles to settle for option #2!

The Question

How many loves do you have? he asked,
Go and see.’ ”
Mark 6:38

Jesus confronts their insufficiency. “What do you have? Go and see! Take a good look!”

The Apostles confess their lack,

“…five small barley loaves and two small fish,
but how far will they go among so many?”
John 6:9

Small feet! Big steps!

How unprepared I feel in many situations! My little seems woefully inadequate, while the demands loom large. The longer I stare at the problem, the more insufficient my abilities and resources appear.

No training for this!
Too old to start now!
Skills are lacking!
Thoughts of inadequacy dominate!

The Solution

In front of the Apostles stood The Solution to every and all need. His Name is Jesus! He took the little they had broke it, blessed it and multiplied it. Be prepared! Breaking always comes before blessing. But only in the breaking can multiplying occur.

Be prepared! Breaking comes before blessing! Click To Tweet

The disciples received their meager gift back to give it away. The little they had proved to be more than enough in the hands of the Master.

“They all ate and were satisfied,
and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls
of broken pieces that were left over.”
Luke 9:17

When God refuses to remove problems from us or us from our problems, there is always a reason. If only we will allow Him to truly take our little, He will bless it. It may need to be broken, but the result will be worth it.

Hindsight will prove Him faithful! Right now, we exercise our faith! With Christ in the equation the solutions will continue to surprise and amaze us, while teaching and changing us.

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Good reads:

Lovelessness! Choosing to Love More!

What To Do When The Answer is “No”

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Never! 8 Things God Will Never Do

8 Things God Will Never Do

I have often said and written, “Nothing is impossible for God!” Actually, there are a number of things that are impossible for Him. If you are curious or think I’ve fallen off the rails, read on! Discover what God will never do.

I am so enthralled by the wonder and majesty of all God is and the glory of His splendor, I have never seriously thought about the things He will never do. Until now!

1. God Never Makes Mistakes

God will never say, “Oops! Made a mistake there! Let Me try that again!”

God never makes mistakes

I think of Joseph’s fifteen year journey through rejection, slavery, and imprisonment.  Surely this was a horrific mistake! God had given him prophetic dreams of becoming a powerful leader.

As second only to Pharaoh, he embraced his brothers,

“As for you, you meant evil against me,
but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result,
to preserve many people alive.”
Genesis 50:20

It took fifteen years for the steep learning curve Joseph was on. In the prison Joseph:

  • learned Egyptian language and culture
  • developed leadership skills
  • allowed God’s Lordship over every area of his life
  • embraced humility over pride
  • chose a lifestyle of continuous forgiveness
  • obtained wisdom for every circumstance
  • allowed perseverance to work godly character in him

the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
Psalms 33:11

It may be difficult to clearly see, but God’s plans for you are always good. Always!

2. God Never Changes

We change clothes, houses, cars, workplaces, hairstyles and shoes. Quickly and often, we change our minds. Because we live in constant transition, it is difficult to believe God never changes.

“Whatever is good and perfect comes to us
from God above, who created all heaven’s lights.
Unlike them, He never changes or casts shifting shadows” ”
James 1:17

God never changes like shifting shadows

We can count on the fact that God never changes, or even shifts

“I the Lord do not change.
Malachi 3: 6

3. God Never Has a Negative Thought

It may be scary but let’s consider the thoughts we think. My list would include, pride, judgment, rebellion, and discouragement. Add to that self-righteousness, self-pity, self-promotion, self-sufficiency… Maybe we should stop there!

No wonder the bible advises us to take our thoughts captive!

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!”
Psalm 139:17

Every thought of God originates in His loving, gracious and excellent nature. His thoughts towards us are beyond number and profoundly wonderful.

What is more, God never has a better idea than His first one. His thoughts are completely flawless. God never thinks a negative thought!

God never has a better idea than His first one. His thoughts are completely flawless. Click To Tweet

4. God Never Stops Loving

Since we are so close, let’s back up a page in the bible to Psalm 136. Twenty-six times in twenty-six verses we read,

“His love endures forever.”

God's love never fails

I think He is trying to tell us something. Nothing can separate us from His great love.

 “I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
 neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

Be thoroughly convinced, nothing can separate us from God’s unfailing love.

5. God Will Never Let You Go

One of my favourite verses is Hebrews 13:5 AMP:

I will not in any way fail you nor give you up,
nor leave you without support.
I will not!
No, I will not!
I will not in any degree leave you helpless
nor forsake nor let you down, nor relax my hold on you.
Assuredly not!”

God will never let us go!

I am not desperately holding unto His hand; He has a relentless grip on mine. He has no intentions of letting go. Assuredly not!

6. God Never Fails to Keep His Promise

There are over 5400 promises in the bible. Most are conditional; none have failed! What God has spoken, He will do.

“… I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”
Jeremiah 1:12

I have begun to circle texts where God says, “I will”. He repeats these words more often than I previously thought,

“I will gather…”
“I will save….”
“The Lord will deliver…”
“I will freely pardon…”

The bible overflows with the promises of God. They are guaranteed promises, we can stand on.

Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed;
every one was fulfilled.”
Joshua 21:45

7. God Never Sleeps

“He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Psalm 121:4

The word “watches”, means “to watch and to keep.” Day and night, in good times and bad, God is constantly watching over and protecting us. Six times in eight verses, He confirms it.

No matter what is going on in our lives, we can rest. God is awake and alert. We can rest our full weight on Him!

“In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 4:8

God never sleeps! He holds us firm!

 

God is alert and awake! We can rest our full weight on Him! Click To Tweet

Even on restless night, we need not fear, for God’s ear is open.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you
great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33:3

God has us covered! He is watchful eye is on us. I rest upon His strength.

8. God is Never Defeated

Kings may oppose Him, rulers may defy Him, but no army will defeat Him or border stop Him.

“God is never defeated.
Though He may be opposed, attacked, and resisted,
the ultimate outcome can never be in doubt.”
—Brother Andrew”

The reason?

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Matthew 28:18

God holds the “all”: all authority, all power, all might, all wisdom, all strength, all glory, all dominion. Whenever the devil tries to get the upper hand, God reveals Himself and triumphs over all. Nothing can or will ever outdo the cross of Christ.

And More!

God is never surprised, thrown off-guard, or bewildered. He sees and knows the future as clearly as the past. He never says, “I didn’t see that coming!”

God is never surprised!

never worries! He is never late! Although I wish His timing was more in tune with mine; a little early would be nice.

Given some thought, you will easily add to this list of God’s “nevers”. He functions in complete alignment with his holy and perfect nature. Never contradicting who He is.

I’m growing to love the never aspects of God’s character. As a matter of fact, I find deep assurance and confidence in pondering His “nevers”. He remains consistently and fully trustworthy.

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More reading:

The Lord is my Helper! “I Will Help You!”

Creating a Culture of Honour – Honour God! Honour All!

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Christmas – The Reason Jesus Came to Earth!

The Reason Jesus Came

The festivities of Christmas have begun: family and social gatherings, decorations, baking, gifts, anticipation and excitement. But why was Jesus born? Why did He come to earth?

Hallmark sells about 93 million cards for Father’s day and another 141 million for Mother’s day. Valentine’s Day tops that at around 151 million. Does anyone want to guess what the number of Christmas cards might be? Those figures come in at 1.6 billion!

In spite of any push away from recognizing Christmas, these numbers speak for themselves. Christians and non-Christians alike place tremendous value in celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Christmas

Many of us follow traditions of previous generations, or have created our own traditions of how we celebrate Christmas. However, the significance of Christmas reaches far beyond traditions.

Why was Jesus born?

Angels Announcement

The birth of a baby is an anticipated event in any family. New parents approach the day with excitement and concern while extended family wait to see, touch and smell the new addition.

So it was for Mary & Joseph!

When a mother was ready to deliver her baby, midwives would be called. Family and friends would congregate on the roof awaiting the announcement from a close but guarded distance. Following the birth, the midwives would take a broom and knock on the ceiling. Then they would break into jubilant song; their familiar chant announcing the details!

“I bring you good news,
today in the town of __________
born to (names of father and mother)
this day a (son or daughter)
He/she will be (occupation, destiny or purpose)”

Their predictable chorus would set the roof top guests into clamorous celebration!

For Joseph and Mary, however, there were no midwives. Neither family nor friends attending the birth of this “unplanned” child. Alone, the Baby came! Only the sounds of chewing of cuds or gentle cooing from the rafters filled the night air.

Angel

God could not and would not allow this birth to go unannounced! Angels were released to declare the song of the midwives!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Luke 2:10-11

This Child, Jesus Christ, was not for limited purpose or design! This Child was “for all the people…Saviour!” The Messiah had come!

Son of God and Son of Man, born to die, to take away the sins of the world.  The journey to Calvary began in Bethlehem – for all!

Calvary

The journey to Calvary began in Bethlehem! Click To Tweet

His Purpose

People continually misunderstood Him. Even for those who believed in Him, their hope of rescue clouded their vision. They wanted a king to set them free! Now!

Just before His crucifixion Jesus responded to Pilate’s questioning,

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king.
For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—
to bear witness to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
John 18:37

The One who always was came! The One without beginning or end “was born“! A king? Yes, but so much more!

The One who always was came! The One without beginning or end was born! Click To Tweet

Every aspect of His birth was swaddled in the supernatural with angelic visitation and divine encounter. Yet, Jesus lived fully Man. At the same time, He was a fully natural demonstration of the fullness of the Father, the fulfillment of the law, revelation of love, and peace in a tormented world.

Jesus came “to bear witness … to testify to the truth!”

 “The true light that gives light to everyone
was coming into the world.
 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God—”
John 1:9 &11

Christmas

Christmas! The Truth shining in all His brilliance came to a world unprepared – unwaiting!

Are you ready? Am I?

It is  challenging to intentionally celebrate a Christ-centered Christmas. With Holy Spirit help, we can add a little more Christ to this Christmas.

Love

Several years ago we had a few guests staying with us over Christmas. We decided to share something we were each thankful for. As it turned out everyone around the circle talked about how significant their relationship with God and with family was to them. These moments had a powerful impact on a young visitor. He neither had a living relationship with Jesus or strong family connections. This simple time was transitional in his life.

Small things can made a big difference! For this young man, Christmas became an encounter with the Saviour!

Christmas is a reminder that real love is shown through sacrifice. For this Jesus was born, testifying with His life and death the truth in every respect. The Truth wrapped in swaddling clothes is love.

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Another read: Meeting God in the Ordinary – From Common to Holy

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Lovelessness! Choosing to Love More!

Learning to Love More

To the statement, “I couldn’t care less!”, Mother Teresa responded, “I couldn’t care more!” To love is to serve especially when lovelessness surrounds us.

Several years ago our granddaughter, then around 3 years old, was walking down the street of a small city with her mother. Approaching them was a homeless man. Gently she pulled on her mother’s arm and softly said, “He has no family.”

She intrinsically sensed his deepest need. Without being able to articulate it, her 3 year old heart saw him uncovered, unprotected, unloved and without dignity or place of belonging. Already she knew that family, true family, is a place of love and value.

Family Love

We look but don't see! We see without wanting to look! Click To Tweet

Why did she at only three so clearly see what we as adults miss? “He needs a family! He needs love!”

We look but don’t see!
We see without wanting to look!
(Mother Teresa)

Lovelessness

“But anyone who hates another brother or sister
is still living and walking in darkness.
Such a person does not know the way to go,
having been blinded by the darkness.”
I John 2:11

Hatred to me is a very strong word. However, the literal translation of this word here is actually “to love less“. If I love anyone less, God equates it to hatred.

Why? In loving less, I become willfully “blinded” to the needs of others. I have opportunity daily to love more or to to love less!

Broken Love

Wedges in relationship are evidence of lovelessness:

Divorce says, “I love you less.”
“I am afraid to love” we whisper to the aborted.
Churches split because of lovelessness;
family feuds linger for generations in loving less.
Gossip, slander and complaining announce it!
Pride, prejudice and jealously demonstrate it!

Loving More!

Just the other day, a small group of young adults picked up a pan-handler, bought him a meal, gave him a ride, loved on him and prayed for him. For them, it was a natural act affirming value and worth to someone.

They loved more!

Love Lives Here

Another group of people I know have given themselves to consistently love and care for drug addicts, gang members, prostitutes and children in the inner city. They give more than a warm drink, food and a safe environment. Warm socks and jackets come with the hugs, prayer and genuine concern. Their motto? “Love lives here!”

They love more!

I recently met a young girl who cares deeply for inner city children who don’t have a safe place to go after school. She is spear-heading a ministry giving them food, loving and validating them, while teaching them bible verses and songs. Though she is little more than a child herself, she leads in tangibly loving about a hundred children in her area.

She loves more!

I also know a couple of grandmothers who are putting their hearts and feet in difficult places. They book a spot at porn conventions to “interpret dreams” as a way to love and pray for prostitutes, pimps and johns.

They love more!

Prayer

I haven’t mentioned yet those who:

  • foster children to make sure each child feels loved and wanted
  • risk they lives in volatile nations
  • go on medical missions, build orphanages and schools
  • jump into the lion’s mouth of domestic violence, abuse and brokenness bringing love and restoration

These love more!

You and Me

Though the dis-ease of love-less-ness is obvious all around us, you and I can make a difference. We have an ability to turn the tide, one person at a time!

I was recently told every person will influence approximately 20,000 people through their life, either directly and indirectly. Our choices determine what that influence will look like?

“The King will reply,
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
Matthew 25:40

Jesus considers His own brother or sister the “least of these.”

Many today have set their hearts to love “the one” in front of them. In so doing they have transformed nations! They recognize the face of Jesus in every person, seeing each as a person worthy of love and dignity.

Each one I touch with love will have a greater freedom to love others. With prayer, my little effort is a seed where more love may some day grow.

Colour it Love

Let us pick up the brush of faith and colour our world with love. By choosing today to have our eyes open to love, lovelessness can be broken in our midst!

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Lost to Found! Death to Life! The Prodigal is Coming Home!

Prodigal

I have memories of getting lost in the back woods and coulees of the Qu’Appelle Valley. Many hours were spent exploring and forging new trails where only deer, fox, rabbits, and the like occupy. At times I would be lost and not even know it! In my wandering, I would eventually arrive back at a familiar place and could find my way.

At times I would be lost and not even know it! Click To Tweet

Lost

It is one thing to be unknowingly lost, but quite another to come to the place where you realize how lost you are.

Lost Puppy

Jesus relates a parable of just such a young man. In his immaturity, he prematurely asks and receives more than his share of father’s estate. Off he goes as far away as the cash in his pocket will take him. He leaves more than his father’s home. He discards family values and faith.

Only when he is entirely broken and destitute does he finally see how lost he is. At the bottom of his self-made pit, he looks up, “My father is my only hope!”

 “When he came to his senses, he said,
‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare,
and here I am starving to death!

 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

 I am no longer worthy to be called your son;
make me like one of your hired servants.’

 So he got up and went to his father.
Luke 15: 17-20

Found

Heavier than the stench of the pig pen was the shame and guilt that cloaked him. Each step home was a painful reminder of how he had drifted. Words of repentance could no longer be silenced!

Pig Pen

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

We have no idea how long the father had been watching and waiting; we do know he never forgot or gave up. Compassion never ends! Love never fails!

The day dawned! The day long waited for was now!

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
Luke 15:21

The son starts his well-rehearsed confession, but never gets to finish it. He is home more than willing to be a servant forever! “Let me work! Let me labour! Don’t call me a son! I’ve gone too far! It has been too long! I’ve done too much! I’m not worthy!”

Father’s Heart

Son-ship has nothing to do with being worthy; it is has everything to do with relationship! My sons are my sons! There is nothing they could do to change that! My DNA is in them. They are loved beyond measure for no other reason  more than being sons. Even if they choose to forget, I cannot and will not forget.

Father Son

“But the father said to his servants,
‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him.
Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.
’ So they began to celebrate.”
Luke 15:22-24

Just as he is, the son is welcome. Brokenness of sin, stains or life, cannot stop the Father’s lavish love. Love covers!

The part we see is only the beginning. The relationship once severed now completely renewed. Once lost, now found! The dead is alive! Every day forward would be a reminder of restoration.

Lost at Home

The second son, though faithful to the core, lived with a father he never knew. The character and nature of his father was completely hidden from him.

Stubborn

He saw his father as demanding, stingy, and hard. Neither did he comprehend his own need for grace and forgiveness. The father did not wait for his oldest’s attitude to adjust; he went immediate to him.

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in.
So his father went out and pleaded with him.

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
But we had to celebrate and be glad,
because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.’”
Luke 15 :28-32

Too often we are not dissimilar to the older son. We settle for working and doing, rather than resting in the shadow of the Father’s love and acceptance. The Father simply wants us to be a son or daughter.

We settle for working and doing, rather than resting. Click To Tweet

We can be in the right place doing all the right things and yet be lost – separated from the Father’s love and character. Prodigals are not always easy to identify. Yet, the Father loves completely and generously, inviting each of us home.

Just like me for so many years, one can be lost and not even knowing it!

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Setting the Goal of Love – Hit the Target!

Focus

My father taught me how to drive a vehicle. He showed me how to target my gaze far down the road while scanning closer sections to avoid upcoming hazards. Good advice for driving and living!

This past Sunday our pastor stressed the importance of setting goals. Apparently those who do:

  • achieve more
  • tend to flourish in those areas
  • find more meaning and greater significance in their life
  • feel better about who they are and where they are going

His words were still fresh in my mind as I read,

 “… The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
T
he second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:30-31

Jesus sets our goal. In fact, there is no greater focal point or personal life target!

Goal

My older brother and I would often head off into the bush on the farm where we lived and craft ourselves bows and arrows out of a fresh-cut willow and an old piece of baler twine. Rarely did they shoot as far or as straight as we had anticipated. Targets were difficult to hit!

I often miss the target to love the Lord fully and love others genuinely. What does God mean to love in this way?

Affection

“…with all your heart…”

Affection is loving with tenderness, devotion, caring and strong sense of attachment. It also includes friendship, fondness and generally liking someone.

Sometimes when there is slight rift in our marriage one of us might say, “I love you, but I don’t like you right now!” Though this little phrase may serve to lighten the atmosphere, it really is an oxymoron. To love with all our heart opens our eyes to see people through God’s eyes.

Target Affection

To love God with “all my heart” is to love with undivided affection even

when I don’t understand the battle
knowing He promises victory:
and when death steals
but He is the Life-Giver;
when all doors are locked
but He could make the way.
To love when confusions invade and doubts soar!
To love with all my heart!

Emotion

“…with all your soul…”

When it comes to emotional honesty, our grand-daughter “A” takes the award! Whatever her current status, she is all in! You don’t need to guess what she is feeling at any particular moment. “A” feels and communicates her emotions transparently. Always!

Target Emotion

To love God with all our soul requires emotional honesty. To give Him, with childlike fullness, the truth in how we are feeling.

The Lord is big enough to handle our anger or confusion. He never asks us to contain our enthusiasm or repress our delight. Our relationship with Him is solid! He is neither frightened or repelled by great fluxes of emotion.

We are made in God’s image. He experiences a wide spectrum of emotion including:

God’s love and faithfulness is steadfast.

Attention

To hit any target, or reach a goal, it requires our full attention.

“…The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord…
with all your mind…”

I am woman! My mind is never on one thought! Men have “box” perspective, an incredible attribute of being able to fully focus on one thing, or even nothing at all. I find this amazing if not  completely unbelievable.

Male or female, to love God completely is to focus all our attention on Him alone!

Target Attention

A cheetah is the fastest animal on land, but it cannot maintain those speeds long. He fixes his gaze completely on the target with relentless focus. His life depends on it! His family’s lives depends on it!

My world is full of distractions screaming for immediate attention. It takes concentrated effort to turn the volume off, close the doors and pull the blinds to attention grabbers. Not just because I am female, but because I am human!

Nothing is more important, than time with God! No one is more deserving than my undivided attention!

My spiritual life and the lives of others depends on my ability to love the Lord so fully that distractions do not pull me away. It really is that critical!

Ability

“…with all your strength…”

To love the Lord with all my strength is simply giving back to him and others every ability and talent He has given me. In some areas, I am stronger than others. Even my yielded weakness in Christ produces incredible results.

Even my yielded weakness in Christ produces incredible results. Click To Tweet

Target Ability

Foolishly, I am often unwilling to tackle areas of personal strength because I don’t want to appear better than others. Sometimes I am reluctant to engage in areas where I know I am weak, not wanting to embarrass myself. Either way, I am not loving fully. To love God with all my strength, is to completely engage in life. To be fully me – the way He created me!

The Target

Setting a goal to love is like focusing on a target beyond all human possibility. Nevertheless, it is what we aim for! Like my brother and I during our childhood play in my father’s pastures, I pick up whatever pieces I can find, fashion a bow and arrows and aim.

One day I will shoot straight and with strength to hit the target of love!

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You are welcome the growing tribe of followers here!

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More reading? Try this:

Mercy, Peace and Love – Jude Contending for the Faith!

Family Motto – Do You Have One?