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God Likes You

Some verses in the Bible have so much packed into them that you just have to stop and chew on them for a while. Zephaniah 3:17 is one of those verses. It says, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (NLT). Think about that verse for a minute. Some versions say, “God is present with you” (MSG) or “God is with you” (GNT). No matter what version, it’s important to know that wherever you go, whatever you do, God is there, present with you in each situation. We just need to learn to be more aware of His presence in our day.

From John 3:16, we know that God loves us. We’re taught that as a kid, but do you ever stop to think that more than that, God likes you too? He really does. He takes delight in us with gladness it says. He sees the deep, dark places of our heart that we keep hidden, and He still likes us and wants to be around us. So many of us keep those parts hidden from others because we think, “If they knew this about me, they wouldn’t like me.” God knows you and I are broken and have sin nature lurking inside. He wants to bring healing to those places, and calm our fears about them. Fear does not come from Him. It comes from not understanding who we are in Him and who He wants to be in our lives.

This verse then ends with a bang! God rejoices over you and sings joyful songs over you. Psalm 32:7 says that the songs God sings are to deliver us and to bring us victory. Just like a parent sings songs to their kids, God sings to us. He knows that wherever we go or whatever we do, we need His comfort, His protection and His victory. Today, God is present with you. He is mighty enough to save you from whatever you’re facing. Listen for His voice that will calm your fears as He sings over you. Because of this, every day has the potential to be a great day. We just need to keep this verse in mind so we can understand how God sees us and know that He both loves us and likes us.

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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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Have you ever been overlooked for something? I’ve been picked last before on the playground. For some people, it started there and has stayed with them their entire lives some people get overlooked time and again when it comes to getting promotions at work. They’re talented enough, but for some reason, the boss looks past them. Other people seem to be overlooked within their own family. They might not be outspoken enough, outgoing enough, big enough or strong enough in the eyes of the ones they love the most. It hurts to be overlooked, but somehow it feels worse to be overlooked by the people who know you best.

In 1 Samuel 16, the Lord had had enough of Saul. He told Samuel to go to Bethlehem to anoint a new king from Jesse’s family.. Samuel was fearful that Saul might kill him, so the Lord told him to take a cow to sacrifice. When he arrived, he was met by the city leaders who asked him what he was doing there. He didn’t tell them his true purpose. He invited Jesse and the city leaders to join him in sacrificing. When Jesse and his sons showed up, Samuel saw the oldest, who was tall and handsome. He thought that this guy must be the next king, but one by one God rejected all the sons of Jesse. When he asked if this were all his sons, he said that he had one more son whom they left watching the sheep. When they brought David in, God immediately said to anoint him as king.

In John 15:16, Jesus was giving His farewell address to the disciples, while He was talking to them, His Words are for us too. He said, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you” (AMP). You may be overlooked by people, but you have been specifically been chosen by God to be His representative. You have been purposefully been planted exactly where you are so you could make a difference. People may not see you, but God does. He has been working out His plan in your life. Don’t give up hope yet. You may feel forgotten, but God’s plan for you will prevail.

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Consider God’s Benefits

In recent years, there’s been a rise of subscription apps. They got them for TV, groceries and a host of other things. The market place is getting crowded, so they’ve started to add incentives. I didn’t even consider getting the grocery app I have now until they started adding benefits to owning it. I get ten cents off a gallon of gas, which adds up to offset the cost. I also get free deliver of online items or even in store groceries. They also added a year’s subscription to a TV app to the benefits package. All of a sudden it had enough value for me to go ahead and pay. To me, the benefits now outweigh what it costs me to make it worth it. We do this same analysis in many areas of our lives.

If you’re familiar with the Bible, you’ve probably heard that Hebrews 11 has been called the Hall of Faith. It’s full of people in the Bible who had to trust God through difficult circumstances. They held onto their faith in God when all seemed lost. Verse 37 says, “Some of these faith champions were brutally killed by stoning, being sawn in two or slaughtered by the sword. These lived in faith as they went about wearing goatskins and sheepskins for clothing. They lost everything they possessed, they endured great afflictions, and they were cruelly mistreated” (TPT). Each of the heroes of the faith paid a high price, but they keep the benefits of following God in mind to help them endure. Many never saw the fulfillment of their promise from God, but because they held onto their faith, their future generations did.

Romans 6:22 says, “But now, as God’s loving servants, you live in joyous freedom from the power of sin. So consider the benefits you now enjoy—you are brought deeper into the experience of true holiness that ends with eternal life!” You and I must also keep in mind the benefits that God offers us as we continue down the path of Christianity. You may not be faced with the same hardships these heroes of the faith had to, but you will still face difficulty times and be forced to trust in God instead of your circumstances. Our faith comes at a cost to us. It is freely given to us, but living in the world while being separate from it can be difficult at times. Trusting God over what we see can exact a price in our lives. Always keep in mind that God has more in store for us than we can even comprehend now. Remember all His benefits and hold fast to your faith. He will always do what He promised.

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One of the most fascinating things in nature to me is the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. I won’t go into all the scientific things that happen once the caterpillar spins itself into a cocoon, but there are some cool things that happen that we can’t observe from the outside. Did you know that the caterpillar actually digests itself? Once it’s sealed up, it releases enzymes that dissolve all of its tissue. There are certain organized parts that survive called imaginar discs that survive the process that will become its eyes, body parts, legs and wings. When it emerges from the cocoon, it truly is a new creature different from what it was before. No wonder a butterfly is a great example of what becoming a Christian is like. In our new life, we should think, act, talk and be completely different from who we were before.

I grew up seeing this transformation in church. I remember people leaving items on the altar when they gave their life to the Lord because they no longer needed them and because they were symbols of their old life. Paul is a great example of this metamorphosis. He hated Christian’s so much that he watched them get stoned to death. Later he led groups of people who would track down believers in order to put them in jail or to death. When Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, everything about him changed. He became one of the people he persecuted. After several years, he became one of the leaders of Christianity and one of its greatest evangelists. Most of the New Testament is him telling us how to live this new life once we’ve accepted Jesus.

In Romans 5:18 he wrote, “Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone” (NLT). Every one of us that accept Jesus are given a new life. We submit to undergoing a metamorphic change in how we think, talk and live. Our lives should be so radically different that people who knew us before should be able to see the change. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” You have been given a new life. Don’t keep going around like a caterpillar. Spread your wings and fly. Live the way God called you to and enjoy true freedom that was given to you.

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Going Through Battles

One thing is for certain, we will all face and go through battles in this life. Some battles are tougher than others. All throughout the Bible God’s people have been called to step onto the battlefield. Many times His people were outnumbered, outgunned and outmatched, but that didn’t keep them from having to go out there. You see, stepping onto the battlefield is often an exercise of faith. We can either compare ourselves to the enemy at hand or we can trust in the Lord. Whether they had to fight, or only step onto the battlefield, they had to call on God and trust Him to fight with them. We are no different. It’s nice when He fights for us, but more often than not, He fights beside us. When we trust in Him, He gives us the victory.

Here are some Bible verses on going through battles.

1. And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!

1 Samuel 17:47 NLT

2. He ransoms me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me, though many still oppose me.

Psalms 55:18 NLT

3. You will not have to fight this battle. Just take up your positions and wait; you will see the Lord give you victory. People of Judah and Jerusalem, do not hesitate or be afraid. Go out to battle, and the Lord will be with you!

2 Chronicles 20:17 GNT

4. You give me strength for the battle and victory over my enemies.

Psalm 18:39 GNT

5. In every battle, take faith as your wrap-around shield, for it is able to extinguish the blazing arrows coming at you from the evil one!

Ephesians 6:16 TPT

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Living The Lifestyle

In the fall of 1995, I was living in Egypt. My family had sent me a care package with goodies from home. I got some Dr Peppers, VHS tapes of my favorite TV shows, a tape recording of my favorite radio station and a stack of CD’s from the local Christian bookstore. As I shifted through the CD’s, one in particular caught my attention, “Jesus Freak” by DC Talk. It had been a few years since they released an album, so I was excited. I immediately put it in and hit play. When it got to song 4, I heard the words of Brennan Manning for the first time as “What If I Stumble?” began to play. The quote said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” It shook me to say the least.

I had been raised in a church with a pastor whose slogan for the church was, “Christianity isn’t a religion…it’s a lifestyle Jesus commanded us to live.” I had been discipled to live that lifestyle, but for some reason when I heard the words on that CD, it hit me that I wasn’t supposed to live like a Christian just for Jesus. There is a world of people all around me who don’t know Jesus and are basing their opinion of Him based on how they see me live and act. My faith couldn’t be just something that I talked about. I didn’t want anyone to turn away from the cross based on the things I did, so I determined to live a life that would point people to Him rather than to push them further into unbelief.

Colossians 4:5 says, “Walk in the wisdom of God as you live before the unbelievers, and make it your duty to make him known” (TPT). As we mature in Christ, our lives begin to change as we are made new from the inside out. The way we think, behave and speak begin to change the more we become like Him. Each of us have to come to a point though where we choose to undergo that chrysalis so that our lives on the outside reflect what we believe on the inside. We will never arrive at living for Him perfectly, so perfection is not the goal. Getting a little bit more like Jesus every day is. We still have to contend with our flesh and we will still stumble, but as we mature, we learn to rely on His grace more. Our lives become living examples of the freedom and change God brings and that’s what will help an unbelieving world find attractive.

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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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Waiting On God’s Promise

One of the things I’ve learned is that when God gives you a dream or a promise, it’s usually followed by a period of waiting. In my experience, the bigger the dream or promise, the longer you’ll have to wait. It’s natural in the waiting to wonder if God is still at work, if He has still chosen you or if it will ever come to pass. In the waiting, our circumstances can cause doubt, but it’s in the waiting that God positions us and grows us to be able to receive the fulfillment of the dream or promise. He’s at work when things appear to be hopeless. He’s working all things out for your good despite what your present situation is. Don’t give up on the promise. Even though you may have made mistakes, you haven’t disqualified yourself or caused God to abandon His Word to you.

There are plenty of people who went through this in the Bible. We often count them as heroes of the faith, but they were human like us. They had long periods of waiting. They felt hopeless at times. They made mistakes that you would think would disqualify them, but God kept faithful to His promise to them. Abraham waited 25 years for God to fulfill His promise, and Abraham tried to bring about the fulfillment himself. Joseph spent around 14 years waiting as a slave and in prison. David had to wait about 15 Years. In that time he was chased away from his family and friends. He had to live in a cave with a bunch of societal rejects. His home was burned down and his wife was captured just before he became king. The list goes on and on of people who had to wait.

Psalm 57:2 says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me” (NLT). This verse was written by David while he was running from King Saul. He continued to cry out to God while He waited. He continued to trust that God was going to fulfill His plan. Just as God was faithful to David, He will be faithful to you. Remind yourself of the goodness of God. Remind yourself that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). If you’re still waiting, God is still working. Pray that He prepares you and positions you while you wait.pray that He will encourage you and give you strength. None of the people I listed above were ready when God gave them the dream or the promise. It was in the waiting that they were matured and grew their faith to be able to faithfully walk in God’s promise. God will fulfill His promise to you when you’re ready.

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Hearing From God

God’s Word is alive and active. There have been some times in my life when I was feeling low and away from God. During that time I had a friend who would come to me often with Post It notes. They would have scriptures on them with exactly what I needed. At other times, I’ve been desperate to hear from God and couldn’t hear anything. In those moments, I would pray, “Lord, for whatever reason, I can’t hear your voice. I’m going to open my Bible and read. Speak to me through your Word.” Each time He would lead me to verses that spoke to me. Sometimes it’s verses I’ve read before, but didn’t speak to me. Because God’s Word is alive, it speaks to us in different ways at different times as our eyes are opened.

In Luke 24, there were two men walking to the town of Emmaus from Jerusalem after Jesus’ resurrection. As they were talking about everything that had happened, they were joined by another man who asked what they were discussing. They told him about what had happened to Jesus. The man then went through the Scriptures they had read their entire lives and explained to them why Jesus had to suffer, die and be risen. For seven miles, this man taught them as they walked. When their eyes were opened to see it was Jesus, He disappeared. In verse 32 they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking with us on the road and opening the Scriptures to us?” (AMP) Jesus opened their understanding of the Scriptures and something ignited in them as He quoted verses to them.

Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes [to spiritual truth] so that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.” I love this prayer from David because it’s one we can pray too. Just as He answered it for David, He will answer it for us. God wants to reveal Himself to us, but the Bible is clear that we must be seeking Him. If you’re feeling far away from God or that you can’t hear Him, seek Him in the Bible. Ask Him to reveal Himself and spiritual truths to you as you read. Don’t stop reading until you’ve heard from Him. Sometimes it will be instant, and others you will have to be persistent. God will then use His Word to guide you, speak to you, correct you or help you. It’s one of many things He’s given us to reveal Himself to us. Don’t neglect time in God’s Word. Read it with a listening ear anticipating that God is going to speak directly to you through it.

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Trading Plans

One of the things we’ve done with our son since he was little is try to teach him decision making skills. We took him to Disney World several years ago with the plan that he could build a Star Wars R2 or BB unit at the end of the day. As we went through the park, he would see things he wanted. We would tell him that he could choose that or the robot. On one such an occasion, he found something he struggled with choosing. We then let him know the price difference. He still struggled. We gave him the pros and cons of choosing one now versus waiting until later. He started crying. It was too difficult, but we told him the choice was his. He finally asked what we would do. We said we would wait for what he wanted. That’s what he did and he loves his BB unit.

In 1 Samuel 8, Israel demanded a king from Samuel. When he went to the Lord about it, God reminded him that they were rejecting Him and not Samuel as their leader. Then God told Samuel to go back to the elders who came to him and let them know the cons of having a king. The leaders listened, but their minds had already been made up. They didn’t care what the consequences were, they wanted to be like every other nation. They wanted a king to judge them and lead them into battle. God, being who He is, didn’t force them to keep Him as their king and leader. He told Samuel to do as they say and give them a king. They decided they wanted to be in charge rather than God.

Proverbs 19:21 says, “A person may have many ideas concerning God’s plan for his life, but only the designs of God’s purpose will succeed in the end” (TPT). God allows us to make our own choices in life. He doesn’t force us to follow Him or accept His plans, but we do have to accept the consequences. Like the Israelites, we often think we know better than Him or we simply want our way. Understand that true success comes from choosing and following God’s plan for your life. Rarely is there immediate satisfaction because God’s plans for you are long range with eternity in mind. The things we trade His plans for are mostly for immediate and temporary satisfaction. We must learn to be patient and accept that He has our best interest at heart and His plans for us will bring the most success in the end.

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Slow Down

Recently my wife and the Lord have told me that it’s time to start saying no to things. When life gets so busy that you’re double booking, forgetting things you’ve agreed to and are living exhausted all the time, you’re doing too much. Life has lots of demands by itself, then we start complicating it by adding things to it. If we’re not careful, we can get so caught up in doing things for our families, our friends, our churches and others that we forget to stop and rest. Worse yet, we can miss our quiet time with God.

Busyness is not necessarily a sign of Godliness. In our minds, it’s easy to equate the two, but there is a point where we just need to stop, sit down and feed ourselves mentally, spiritually and emotionally. When Jesus went to the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Martha was busy preparing food and serving her guests. She was doing what was necessary because she had guests, but she was stressing herself out too. That’s when she noticed her sister wasn’t even helping her. Instead, she was just sitting there listening to Jesus.

When Martha complained to Jesus, His reply to her was also to us. In Luke 10:41 He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things” (AMP). Each one of us should substitute our name for hers right there and know that God is ok with you slowing down, clearing your calendar and removing the things from your life that distract you from Him. Life isn’t about being busy all the time. It’s preparation for eternity. When you get to Heaven, you’re not going to be asked how busy you were or how much you accomplished. You’re going to be asked how well you knew Jesus and how well He knew you.

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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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