Feeling Loved

Have you ever felt unloved? It’s a tough place to be in. I believe feeling loved is one of our basic needs. When we’ve been rejected and feel unloved, we begin to shut down and withdrawal. I’ve been in that place before wondering what was wrong with me. I’ve read where there was an experiment with babies. The nurses gave love and attention to half the newborns in the experiment and only gave milk to the others. The ones who were loved thrived and were healthy. The ones who weren’t became sick and some died. There is an innate need for love in all of us. It’s important to know where to get that need filled as well.

In Daniel 10, he was given his final vision. In it he saw a man standing near a river who he describes as so powerful his strength left his body. This being lifted him up and said, “Daniel, God loves you. Stand up and listen carefully to what I am going to say. I have been sent to you” (GNT). It’s incredible that his first words were to remind Daniel that he was loved. Daniel again felt weak as the angel spoke to him. Verse 19 says the angel came over and said, “‘God loves you, so don’t let anything worry you or frighten you.’ When he had said this, I felt even stronger and said, ‘Sir, tell me what you have to say. You have made me feel better.’”

Feeling loved changes everything and gives us strength. I want you to know today that God loves you. It is a deeper, more complete love than you could ever feel or receive from another person. When we’re feeling unloved, and even unlovable, we need to remind ourselves that God loves us despite how far we’ve run or even what we’ve done. His love for us isn’t based on anything we’ve done or will do. He loves you simply because He created you and you’re His child. You need to let that sink into your spirit and mind today. I’m linking a song by Jon Gibson that is catchy and will play over and over in your mind to remind you that God loves you. If you’re struggling with feeling loved today, listen to it and let it saturate your mind and spirit.

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Nourishing Your Soul

One of the things we’ve lost to modern life is making bread. Yes, you can go to the store and have your choice of loaves, but I’m not talking about that bread. I’m talking about real bread. The kind where the ingredients were simple and it took a while to rise. It was then put into the fire to cook. In those days, the bread was the meal. Today, we’ve made bread a side dish to the meal. We’ve added so many preservatives that people have become allergic to it. It’s no wonder that God referred to His Word as bread and even water at times.

Psalm 1:2 describes a person who,follows God by saying, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night” (AMP). If God’s Word is like bread, meditating on it is like letting it rise. It will grow within you. The rising of bread is created when microorganisms break down the grain and unlock nutrients that our bodies can’t happen unless that process takes place. The same thing happens when we meditate on God’s Word instead of just reading it. The next verse gives us more insight.

Verse 3 says, “And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].” When we approach God’s Word with the intent on meditating on it and breaking it down to understand and apply it, we are fed by the water of the Word which will firmly plant us and cause us to produce the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). So don’t just read God’s Word. Let it rise within you. Let it nourish your soul and help you produce a life that is deeply rooted in Him.

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The Two Balconies

Several years ago my wife and I felt like God asked us to make a change. The problem was we liked where we were. It was comfortable and we didn’t want to make this change. God let us know again that we needed to make the change. We explained to God that we didn’t want to, hoping He would understand. He didn’t. Life began to be uncomfortable. We became more miserable the longer we held out. Finally we agreed, but we wanted it to be on our terms. We made the change even though we were unhappy about it. It took months for us to figure out God was trying to bless us, but our comfort and stubbornness were standing in the way.

2 Samuel 11:1 says, “In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites…However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem” (NLT). The next verse says David was so comfortable there that he took a nap. He was supposed to leave Jerusalem and go to war, but he put his comfort ahead of his calling. After he took his nap, he stepped out onto his balcony and saw Bathsheba taking a bath. Because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, he committed adultery with her. Then when she got pregnant, and her husband wouldn’t sleep with her when he was called home from the war, David had him killed. He faced severe consequences for his disobedience that started on the balcony of comfort.

In Luke 24:49, Jesus told about 500 people to go to Jerusalem to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit. Acts tells us about 120 of them went to the Upper Room and waited. Then after they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, Acts 2 says that Peter and the disciples went outside on the balcony to address the crowd. About 3,000 we’re saved that day because they had obeyed what Jesus had spoken to them. This balcony reminds me of the blessings of obedience. Jeremiah 7:23 says, “Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!” Your obedience is more important than your comfort. The balcony of obedience leads to God’s promises.

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Following God’s Direction

Water always takes the path of least resistance. It flows to the lowest point following that path being twisted and turned by whatever is in that path. There are a lot of people who live their lives that way. Their lives are out of control and filled with chaos usually. You and I were not called to live that way though. We must let God direct our lives where we choose to go where He leads. It takes more effort than the path of least resistance because it is purpose driven. If you find yourself meandering in life, ask God to direct your path, and then let it flow where He leads.

Here are some Bible verses on letting God direct your life.

1. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness and patience of Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 AMP

2. If the Spirit is the source of our life, we must also allow the Spirit to direct every aspect of our lives.

Galatians 5:25 TPT

3. Listen, my son, and be wise, And direct your heart in the way [of the Lord].

Proverbs 23:19 AMP

4. The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord, And He delights in his way [and blesses his path].

Psalms 37:23 AMP

5. What I say is this: let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature.

Galatians 5:16 GNT

Thanks to Wynand Uys @wynand_uys for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁

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The Perfectionist’s Problem

One of the first lessons I learned in writing is that it’s ok to send out a devotion with typos. I apologize to you for them, but it’s partly on purpose. I’m a perfectionist at heart. I like things to be a certain way. I don’t want you distracted by words that have been autocorrected into something I didn’t intend. I also want these devotions to be polished and have the finishing touches put on them so that it’s easy for you to read. However, if I wait until they’re perfect, I’d never put one on the website.

“Perfect” is an illusion that creates procrastination. I can hide behind that word all I want, but really my perfectionism is my fear keeping me from hitting the publish button. I will never have this devotion or any other one perfect because I’m imperfect. I’ll never have all the words just right, the grammatical pieces in place or the setting just right. I can tweak them over and over again, but if I never hit the publish button, what good is it?

I like how Ecclesiastes 11:4 puts this dilemma. It says, “If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything” (GNT). That verse is a huge gut check to my perfectionism. Not hitting the publish button is akin to not planting anything. If I wait until everything is perfect and just right, I’ll never do what God called me to do. It’s a trap that many of us fall into.

As I was wresting with it early on, I was reading a book by Mark Batterson. He wrote that we get “ready, set, go” backwards. We should be more like “go, set, ready”. If God has asked you to do something, start doing it. You’ll never have everything just right or perfect. If you wait until the conditions are right, you’re going to still be standing on the starting line when you die. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to let my perfectionism keep me procrastinating my whole life. I’m sorry if these aren’t perfect, but neither am I.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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A Seat At The Table

I’m a pretty self confident person normally. I can be in most situations and feel like I can hold my own. However, when I went to my first executive meeting at a major corporation, I got my confidence wrecked. The guy presenting before me couldn’t defend his projections for the next quarter. The higher ups questioned him and exposed him like nothing I had ever seen. He ended up getting tears in his eyes and shut down in front of everyone. They turned to me and said, “Next!” I don’t remember what I said or how I got through it, but that meeting left a mark. Every time after that, when I walked into a board room with a giant table full of suits sitting at it, I felt like I didn’t belong there. I became quiet and meek. When they asked what I thought about something, inside I wondered why they cared what little, old me cared about.

In 2 Samuel 9, King David asked if any of Jonathan’s relatives were still alive so that he could show kindness to them and to fulfill his promise to his best friend. They told him about Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth who became paralyzed when he was dropped as a child as they were on the run. David asked for him to be brought in. In those days, when a new king took over, they killed everyone who could possibly have a claim to the throne. Mephibosheth would have been second in line and was terrified to meet with David. When he arrived, David gave him all of Saul’s land and invited him to dine at the king’s table. In verse 8 Mephibosheth replied, “Who is your servant, that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?” (NLT) He didn’t feel like he belonged at that table, but he began to eat there anyway.

After Peter had denied Jesus three times, Jesus appeared to him and the other disciples on the Galilean seashore in John 12. He called out to them and when they arrived at shore, He invited them to come and dine. I’m sure Peter didn’t feel like he belonged at the Lord’s Table, but Jesus gently gave him the charge to feed His sheep. Just like Peter and Mephibosheth, we can feel unworthy to sit at the King’s table because of things we’ve done. We can try to minimize our status as King’s kids, but there is a place for you there. Jesus is reminding us like He did Peter that it’s His righteousness that we wear, not our own. No matter what you’ve done, once it’s covered by His blood, it’s gone and there’s a seat waiting for you. Don’t shy away from God’s Table. Don’t feel you’re not enough to be there. You have been raised to new life and have been given a new nature and are clothed with a robe of Christ’s righteousness now. Don’t hold back. Come and dine. You have a seat at the table.

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Even If

In the spring of 1998, my family was sitting in a waiting room at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. We had been living in that waiting room for about six weeks along with other families. My mom had slipped into a coma a few weeks earlier, and now the doctor wanted to talk to us in the consultation room. He said, “There’s nothing else we can do except to make her comfortable.” We sat there shocked with our faith taking a major blow. My dad then got everyone’s attention and said, “We will keep praying for healing, but if He chooses not to heal her here, purpose in your heart now not to be bitter against Him.” She passed away a few weeks later.

In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar built a 90 foot tall statue for the people to worship. Then he got some bad advice from some jealous officials. They didn’t like that the Jews who had been captured and taken into their country had different customs. They convinced him to put to death anyone who didn’t bow down to the statue knowing several Jews had ascended the governmental ranks. The king made a law condemning anyone who didn’t bow. The advisors were quick to point out three Hebrew brothers who didn’t bow. When the king confronted them, they explained that they couldn’t bow so he ordered them to be thrown into a furnace. They told him that God was able to save them. Then in verse 18 they said, “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up!” (AMP)

“Even if He doesn’t” is a mindset we all must have. It’s great when prayers are answered the way we ask, but will you still trust, serve and love God if He doesn’t answer the way you want? Can you still follow Him with your whole hear when His answer doesn’t make sense and your world comes crashing down? The three Hebrews knew that God was able, but they were steadfast knowing He may not answer their prayer. I’ve learned, just as they did, that whether He answers you or not, He will stand with you in the fire. He won’t abandon you when the prayers go unanswered. He is still God. He is still in control. He still has a plan that I can’t see and I trust His decisions because He has proven His character over the history of this world. Will you still trust Him even if you don’t get the answers you want? Now is the time to make that decision, not later.

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Pushing Through

One of the things I’ve learned about when it comes to accomplishing things is that all of us get some kind of resistance in the brain. No matter how much we want to do it or how much we need to, some type of fear tries to come in and short circuit the brain to prevent us from following through fully. We face the fear of the unknown, the fear of how being successful in it might change us, the fear of what others will think and so on. These fears try to affect our physical actions, but they don’t have to. Each of us have the ability to push through when we recognize the fear and how it is trying to stop us. We have the capacity to follow through with what God has called us to do, but we must choose to push through no matter what.

You know the story in Genesis 22 where Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice Isaac. I’m sure Abraham”s mind was attacked by fear on the way up the mountain, yet he kept walking. Isaac was in the same boat. Every representation of this story you have seen has shown Isaac as a little boy. However, most Bible scholars believe he was an adult at the time of this encounter. Think about that. He understood what was going on as he carried the wood up the mountain and asked about it. He still took each step and presented himself as the sacrifice when he could have overpowered his father or run away. He didn’t let fear stop him from being obedient.

Romans 12:1 says, “So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer” (GNT). What has God asked you to step out in faith and do? What are the fears you’re facing? Whose voice are you listening to? We must be like Abraham and Isaac walking in faith the where God is leading us. We must take steps daily surrendering to His plan and will instead of ours. Yes, it is a sacrifice, and you’re going to have to give up some things along the way while carrying a heavy load. However, God will meet us in the place of provision when we push past the fears, submit ourselves as a sacrifice and dedicate ourselves to His purposes. Pick up His burden today and start taking steps in the direction He is leading you towards.

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Trusting In The Rock

Have you ever heard someone refer to someone else as they’re rock? They’re saying that person was their solid ground and place of safety in unsure times. The Bible often refers to God as our rock. He is an unchanging place for us to stand on when everything else is sinking sand. In our world, there isn’t anything stable anymore that you can rely on or trust in. Everything we have tried to build our lives on or find security in has shifted, crashed or gone away. The only sure thing you and I have to hold onto is God Himself. Some trust in horses, others chariots, but we will r trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7). When your world is unstable, run to the Rock!

Here are some Bible verses on trusting in the Rock.

1. From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety.

Psalms 61:2 NLT

2. Turn your ear to listen to me; rescue me quickly. Be my rock of protection, a fortress where I will be safe.

Psalms 31:2 NLT

3. On God my salvation and my glory rest; He is my rock of [unyielding] strength, my refuge is in God.

Psalms 62:7 AMP

4. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and the One who rescues me; My God, my rock and strength in whom I trust and take refuge; My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower—my stronghold.

Psalms 18:2 AMP

5. Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

Psalms 71:3 NLT

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Living Intentionally

When it comes to getting things done, my son can be slow at times. I’ve tried hurrying him up by using words, clapping, and singing. Sometimes they work, but usually it’s only for a short time. Ive learned to use a timer with him. When he sees the clock and how much time he has left, he focuses and gets the job done. All of a sudden, he gets an urgency to make things happen. By the way, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I often need something like that to give me an urgency to get things done.

My middle initial is “P”. When people ask what it stands for, my go to response is, “Procrastinator”. If something isn’t urgent and important to me, it can fall into my “I’ll get it done later” list. That just means I’ll keep putting it off until it becomes urgent and important. That’s not the best way to do things though. If we constantly focus only on what’s urgent and important, we are failing to live our lives with intentionality. We do need an urgency to get things done, but if we are intentional about doing the right things, our lives won’t be a constant fire drill.

The writer of Psalm 90:12 wrote a prayer to God that says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (NLT). He was praying, “God, give me a timer to help me get things done. Help me to grow in wisdom so I can be intentional about getting the right things done.” He was probably a lot like many of us who struggles with procrastination and focusing on what’s important. He wanted God to remind him how short life is and to help him grow in wisdom so he could be intentional.

What is it that we pray for? Is it more time to get things done? We could be praying for wisdom to get the right things done on time. God doesn’t need us to be in a constant fire drill. That only burns people out and doesn’t guarantee that the right things get done. He wants us to have wisdom so we can be urgent about the things that matter. If you’ve been praying the first prayer above, let me encourage you to change that prayer. Ask God for wisdom and to help you live intentionally. Watch what a difference that makes in your life.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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